Monday, March 19, 2012


My oldest son said something to me tonight.  He said, “If I was regular, I would be white.”

I don’t know how I got here.  Actually, I do know I just don’t feel like admitting it to myself.  There are so few blacks in Arizona that people like me have to make a choice.  Either we live in predominantly black neighborhoods with terrible schools and random shootings or we live in predominantly white neighborhoods with great schools and little crime.  I obviously chose the latter.  Was it the best choice?  Tonight it feels like it was not the best choice.  I hate Arizona

I thought I could decide what I would pass on to my children.  I thought I was smart enough to know how to save them from this.  The minute those words left his sweet little mouth, all the running and all the effort of shoring up a different childhood from the one that I had suddenly caught up to me and I felt exhausted.  Is his life something I can construct out of thin air with prayer, advice from the best books, quality friends, and a literature-rich home? 

The horrific event that most civil rights experts credit with sparking the movement happened just a few doors down from my where my father lived when he was five years old.  My parents grew up at ground zero for the movement.  They took me out of Greenwood partly so that I could have a life that wasn’t defined by race.  In the end, pain over being a different color than my peers and neighbors was the anthem of my childhood. 

Now, here I am.  My beautiful, fresh faced, caramel colored son – the most beautiful boy I have ever seen – is coveting the one thing he can never have. 

Booker Wright said that he didn’t want his children to have to go through what he went through, and then immediately after that he took on the persona of a white person and said, “Hey, tell that n---- to hurry up with that coffee!”  Clearly, part of what motivated him was the idea that his children would find a world or make a place for themselves in the world where their race wouldn’t matter. 

For generations my family members have tried to throw this thing off and then run in the other direction, but it always seems to find us or at least it finds our children, stealthily and efficiently like a boomerang.


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