For as long as I can remember, I've told people that I don't want sons. I want four kids - all girls - and people look at me like I'm insane. Part of it is because I grew up with no sisters, and I always wished I had that sisterly connection. I never knew what it was like to grow up in a house of girls and so I'm intrigued by it. The other reason, though - the one that's harder to tell people, is that I don't want to raise a black boy. Because it's too hard and it's too soul crushing and it's too painful and I just don't know if I'm equipped for it. Being a black woman is no cakewalk, that's for sure, but being a black man in America. Shit. I don't even have words for the kind of social and political acrobatics you have to go through if that is the hand you are dealt. I just don't know if I could do it. Not when innocent black children get gunned down in the streets and their murderers run free. Not when wearing a fucking hooded sweatshirt while black is enough to rain all kinds of hell down on you. I don't want any part of that.
My experiences with black men have been few and far between, which adds to my fear of having sons. My father is a white Hispanic male. Yes, he's Puerto Rican and a minority, but he is fair of skin and pretty much just looks like a random white dude from NYC. So, I didn't really grow up with a lot of black men in my life. Two of my brothers are half black, half Puerto Rican and while they look ethnic, they have an ambiguity about them. My oldest brother, though, is a very dark-skinned black man - one of the few in my life. We're not extremely close, so I don't know how he handles these issues and I can't even imagine really asking him. So, here I stand in my ignorance.
I was reading an article about Charlize Theron and the recent uptick of single white Hollywood stars adopting black babies and whether or not they are equipped to raise them. First of all, I think a home is a home and I'd rather these babies in a white home than no home at all. Of course, it also goes without saying that these children will grow up in the lap of luxury and will have all the food, money, and status that one can have. I do hope, however, that the white men and women who adopt them take a long, hard look at what it's like to be black in America and realize that their children may suffer indignities that they cannot even fathom or imagine. I just pray they are not naive on that point.
Growing up, my mother always told me I had to be the absolute best and my behavior had to be beyond reproach for three simple reasons - I am black, I am female, and I have a Hispanic last name. The world is going to constantly look for reasons to keep me down and no slack will be allowed. I absorbed that message in the way that most black kids from middle-class families do. What my mother never told me, and what I learned on my own, is that it doesn't matter how high your high-school GPA is, how many Ivy League degrees you have, what prestigious company you work for, or how much money you make, a huge chunk of the world is going to see you as a nigger. In my heart, I know that my mother knows this, but how do you break a child's heart with that lesson? That's not something your parents can teach you - that's something society will. When I think of Trayvon Martin, when I see the pictures of him - a boy that teachers described as "an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness" - my heart aches and my blood boils and I'm crying while I write this because it's just so unfair. It is so fucking unfair and this country is so fucked up and so many Americans are just evil and hateful and I don't know how to deal with that.
White people often wonder why black people seem so angry. This is why we're so angry - because it's 2012 and shit like this still happens and will continue to happen. Trayvon Martin is not the first nor will he be the last, sadly. Being black in America is a fucking curse - it's a nightmare. If people knew even half the anger that courses through my veins on a daily basis as I navigate a world full of not only overt but subtle racism, they would be terrified of me. This is what it means to be an "African American" - I only hope that Charlize and Sandra and all the other white women out there who will mother black boys can understand that this is what the world will do to their smiling, happy children. Children who are born with targets on their backs that no amount of money, class, or breeding can remove.