Monday, March 26, 2012

The Black Man's Code for Children: A Dad's Perspective on Trayvon Martin

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Thank you all so much for the thoughtful comments on my last post about Trayvon Martin. I don't have time today to respond to them all, but I have read each one. It is heartening to know that other people believe we shouldn't burden our youngest children with the fear of 'walking while Black.' Instead, we should give them time to grow up before informing them of the ugliness that resides in the world.

That being said, I wanted to call attention to the following article, written by AP writer, Jesse Washington, which provides the opposite viewpoint to the matter. Albeit reluctantly, Washington told his son about the Black Male Code of Conduct after news of the Trayvon Martin case broke. Here's an excerpt of what he wrote.

" I thought my son would be much older before I had to tell him about the Black Male Code. He's only 12, still sleeping with stuffed animals, still afraid of the dark. But after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I needed to explain to my child that soon people might be afraid of him."

To read the rest of Jesse's story, which also includes the viewpoints of other Black men who felt they had to explain "the code," to their sons, follow this link.

I'm curious if Jesse's perspective changes anyone's mind? Do we need to protect our sons or can we safely keep them 'ignorant.?' It probably isn't an either or question. I say it still really depends on the child's age and maturity level, as well as their level of independence in the world. Ultimately, every parent has to decide how they want to raise their children, but it sure is complicated and of course, nobody wants to mess up.

Thoughts? I'm still listening.



lifeexplorerdiscovery said...

The biggest misconception in this is the sexist view that its only black men who are a victim of a racist society. This is how black women become forgotten. I mean I have read many stories worse than Trayvon's that didn't even get half the attention. Black women are seen even less than black women and are probably the bigger victims too.

Laura said...

When we read your original article both my boyfriend and I agreed that we would talk early and often(when we have kids), at an age appropriate level. It just seems to much to spring on a kid at a later date. I liken it to talking about being adopted. I think it's cruel to wait until a kid is 16 to bring that up.

I have always thought that kids feel and pick up way more than we give them credit for. So, black kids are getting the info from parents and the world about fear regarding race, wouldn't that child be better equipted to deal with it all if they could talk with their parents about it?