OJ Musings - Part 2
As we made our way home that evening, I found myself getting more and more irritated and angry at the subtext that was sprinkled throughout that conversation. My husband shrugged it off. Again, we are different and grew up with different levels of racial awareness. I felt like there was a behavioral expectation from my son that wasn’t age appropriate. Of course I do not think it is acceptable for him to bite other children but he was also 1.5 years old. We weren’t discussing a teenager.
The notion of him being so strong rubbed me the wrong way. It’s almost like we were talking about some sumo wrestler and not a young toddler. Her repeatedly saying he was going to be a football player? LADY! Has Obama holding office not taught you anything about the possibilities for Black boys outside of sports? In our follow-up discussion a month later, I made sure to correct her immediately when she mentioned him being “so strong” and “you guys have a football player on your hands”. “NO!” I said, “I am not raising a football player. You are looking at your future president. Or a Steve Jobs. Or anything he wants to be where he is using the intelligent brain we make sure to nurture.” I hadn’t intended to come across “forceful” but I wanted her to understand how powerful words can be and the gravity of what she was implying. She smiled nervously but she stopped saying that about him in all future communication although her assistant mentioned him being a soccer player instead and then said, “see I didn’t say football”.
Having so much energy? What kind of energy should you have at that age? The way they kept emphasizing this made me feel like it was a precursor to a future ADD conversation but clearly he was too young for them to use that label. Furthermore, there seemed to be exasperation on their part that they needed to actually challenge my son more so than the other children. Quite frankly, I felt like if he was a little white boy, all things mentioned would have been dismissed as a boy just being a boy. Even though they said the biting wasn’t maliciously done, in the same breath they said he seemed to “go after” children who were more reserved.
In the car, I cried out of anger but also because it hit me that the fight for my son had already began and for some naïve reason, I was thinking we had a few more years before we had to deal with this kind of ignorance.
I love my son more than I ever thought it was possible to love another person. I take my responsibility and role as his mother very seriously and I believe my goal in raising an accomplished, young Black man has to be rooted in ensuring he receives maximum exposure to all things and people he can learn and grow from and although I wish I could insolate him and idealistically let him be raised as simply Luca without a color, the society we currently reside in, simply won’t allow this.