April 10, 2015

Should White People Raise Black Children?

Ok, I have a reason why I'm writing this, trust me I'm not 'trolling' nor am I trying to be a social heretic. I have been thinking about this for a little while and finally decided to put my feelings into words, hear me out.

Over the past few years race relations in American society has become even more controversial than it once was. The issues have always been there but now more than ever blacks are being more conscious and more vocal I would argue. A couple semesters ago I took a Sociology course on race, class, and gender. In class we'd of course always discuss past and present race relations of all types. It was the kind of course that hear about in movies, a course that inspires you and makes you more aware of your surroundings, it even had me considering changing my major to Sociology. My professor was an amazing and brilliant woman who had been a Sociology professor for quite some time. One class period in particular, I will always remember because it made me think about not just society but my own black experience. She said: "I have studied race relations for a long time. I know about the effects of white privilege, racial profiling, injustices and all sorts of inequalities when it comes to blacks versus whites. I can sincerely sympathize with blacks and empathize to a certain degree but I will never fully understand what it is like to be black, no matter how much I read or study." Honestly, I almost fell out of my seat when she said that statement. It's a statement that can be said about anything relating to the "Other", especially when it's something you can never experience.

What many people fail to realize is that you can sympathize with blacks, you can see the injustices, and feel our pain but still our shoes are different from whites. I'm not saying that we should be divided, but our world viewpoints are different. I would even argue that it's easier for blacks to see things from the perspective of whites than vice versa. Socially whites have it easier than blacks, it is what it is and it has been proven. Whiteness is also considered 'normal' while blacks and minorities are considered deviant. We all know what normal looks like and feels life and since whites don't face the same obstacles, it's easier to see things from the perspective of a person who is does not have all the constraints that we do. All people of color (black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, etc.) face a different reality than whites, which leads me to the question at hand: Should white people raise black children?

When I say 'black children' I am encompassing all children of color, but more specifically black and bi-racial/mixed children. I believe that whites are of course capable of raising happy, healthy, intelligent, well adjusted children, it would be stupid to think otherwise. I'm not talking about parenting skills here, my question is more directed towards the social issue of whites and blacks. How does a white father teach a black son about the fact that he might be murdered if he's stopped by the police? How does a white mother teach a black daughter that her full lips and darker complexion are attractive when the media says white women are always beautiful? Would she really believe that she's beautiful if it's coming from a white woman who does not look like her? How would a white parent teach a black child that socially they are ten steps behind whites no matter who their parents are, no matter how much education they have or how well spoken they are, they're always behind? How does a white family raise a black child amongst white siblings? Do you teach them all the same things? Because a black person can't just do what white people do, we don't have white privilege.

Some people might say, does it matter? If the children are being raised correctly and are happy and healthy, who cares? Could we just stop talking about race and society, I don't see color, I see children, who cares about color? That is exactly why blacks and whites are different, whites have the luxury of saying they're "color blind" (which is a false mindset, everyone sees color), but blacks are reminded of their color every single day we can't escape it. I know you might be thinking, I know where she's going with this, but actually the answer to my question is YES, white parents can raise black children BUT with one stipulation. I believe if an all white family adopts a black child they should have at least some sort of black mentor and expose the child to black culture. Even if the child is happy and healthy, their adult life will be miserable because they won't understand the social implications that comes along with being black. With mixed/bi-racial children it should be the same. Even with black children raised by black people, they should be aware of their culture and the implications that goes with blackness. Giving them the best and sheltering them from the black reality should not be synonymous.

Come to think of it, it reminds me of an episode of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". Carlton who had been raised very well, attended predominantly white private schools, and had all white friends didn't understand Will who had came from a rough area in Philly, attended public predominantly black schools, and lived in a black neighborhood. In one episode when they were older, they were stopped by the police and Carlton couldn't believe how he was treated, while Will had seen it many times before. In fact throughout the entire series Carlton struggled with his identity especially once they were older. I know the show is fictional, but even black families hide the black reality from their children.

In conclusion, as children, they absorb the things the see more than the things you actually tell them. Growing up, my parents never told me 'whites are superior in society', it's just sort of understood. White was normal, white was right. Once I started to realize it, more so in my teen years, it was sort of depressing. If I didn't have my parents, relatives, and friends to relate to, I think it would be even more depressing. I believe, black children and all children of color need to know of the black reality. They need some sort of relationship with someone who understands what it's like. It's important!