Historically, people with dark or black skin and curly or kinky hair have been thought of as being ugly, dirty, inferior, shameful, and/or dangerous. However, I grew up in the 1960’s – an era when I was taught to say it loud, “I’m Black and I’m Proud!” To this day, I’m still proud to say, “Black is Beautiful!” But, the operative word is “taught.” I was taught that I am Black because race is a manmade concept conceived to put people into categories to promote or hinder their socio-economic opportunities. There is no physiological foundation for race.
When my now 26-year-old Black son was in the second grade he had a white classmate whose mother was pregnant. The pregnant woman told me my son came up to her and said, “I want your baby to look like me.” Obviously, I hadn’t had the “race” talk with him yet and I really don’t know why. After all, I always knew I was Black, so, why hadn’t I taught my only child about race?
Quickly, however, he learned about race when a kid on the school playground called him the “N” word. To add insult to injury, the white principal of the school restricted my son’s access to areas of the playground whenever the kid that called him the name was there and one day the principal actually punished my son for being on the same side of the playground with the offender. Can you imagine segregation in the 1990’s at a public school in the county of Los Angeles?
Many years later, when my son was in college and when Trayvon Martin was killed, my son’s Brown orthodontist asked me if I had “The Talk” with him and he didn’t mean the sex talk, he meant the race talk - the talk that would hopefully save my Black son’s life. By then, you bet I had!
Like it or not, the conversation about race cannot and should not be avoided because some Black or Brown child’s life depends on it. So, let’s have and keep the conversation going Los Angeles!
- Lynn, Los Angeles City Resident of 59 years