OJ Musings...Part 1
I don't know how many of you watched the OJ documentary, I thought it was phenomenal. I absolutely love the way they framed his story around what was happening racially in the country at the time. Obviously during the trial, the topic of race was at the heart of the discussion and the demographics of who found him guilty vs. innocent was largely split based on race. Despite the racial climate at the time, I was particularly fascinated that OJ Simpson simply wanted to be perceived as just OJ and not only refused to identify as Black but went out of his way to disassociate with all things Black and (before the trial) completely submerged himself into white culture. Sadly, when the trial occurred, all his athletic achievements were forgotten and he was seen exactly as the Black man he avoided identifying with his entire life.
Being a Black woman in American I have always seen the world through racial glasses. I find it to be one of the first questions on my mind when I listen to a story (what were they?) or when I recount an event. My husband was born in Denmark to a white Danish mother and Black Ghanian father. He didn't come to America until he was 19 years old. At this point, he has spent half of his life here and half in Denmark but a lot of times, he and I still perceive race differently, largely because of the way and where we were each raised.
My parents constantly let me know I was Black. They always reminded me that my life would be different because of it. Like many Black and middle class parents, they emphasized the importance of academic achievement as a path to "arriving" in society. They always let me know that I had to communicate better, run faster, dress better, insert any verb and add 'better' in order to compete with my white counterparts in society. By the same token, they also communicated there being a limitation to what I could have or be because I was Black. To this day, my mother believes the idea of going on a vacation is very much a "white thing to do" and if my desires or wishes went too far outside the box, well then, I must be thinking that I am a white girl.
Needless to say, despite wishing I could avoid the topic all together when raising my child, I am acutely aware that I am raising a Black boy who will eventually grow up to be a Black man in America and so often will be perceived and experienced as public enemy #1. In my effort to protect him and equip him, I have made it my mission to teach him and expose him to as much as possible. Similar to my parents, I understand that this would be his only fighting chance to avoid being a statistic in this country. Although truth be told, many of us know, you could be the most eloquent of speakers. The most highly accomplished of people. The most monetarily successful. The list goes on of all the surmounting lifetime achievements you could check, and yet STILL fall victim to a racially charged incident.
Currently, my son is in an amazing daycare. It is bright and airy with large classrooms and an outside play area. Academics are already being introduced. He gets read to. He takes baby yoga. He has a music class once a week and Zumba. They introduce numbers and letters and basically build on everything we teach him at home. When he was around 1.5 (currently almost 2 in September), there were parent/teacher conferences. My husband and I of course attended. At the conference, the Director sat in on our meeting with the teacher which I thought was odd. They told us how loveable Luca is and how he loves reading. To be honest, once they started communicating the areas of development, I couldn't even remember the positive things that were said beforehand.
They expressed that Luca was biting other children. Not maliciously of course but he would get excited maybe and bite. They believed he was trying to kiss but hadn't quite grasped the technical aspects of how it was done. We were also told about his hair pulling and the director even expressed that he grabbed a chunk of her hair completely out because "he's so strong". He has a lot of energy. Has something changed in his diet? Or anything different going on at home? He really just has so much energy and sometimes he would just run from one side of the room to the other. Possibly knock another child down in the process. I think you have a football player on your hands.
We went on to discuss the methods we use at home for when he is doing something like biting or pulling hair. Both done to me by him but not to my husband and I mentioned his age because of course we are talking about a child who was barely 1.5 doing these things and not a teenager. I remember saying that my son was not going to be a football player and then the meeting ended. Quite frankly, I was a bit in shock and when my husband and I got to our car, I nearly lost it.
I think I was so angry, I began to cry as I repeated, "He's a baby. He's a baby. He's learning."