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The Challenge of Raising a Black Male

My daughter returned to college this week after a three week holiday break. Having her home gave me a much needed vacation from her three-year-old son.

But now I am wearing the mommy/grandma hat again and dealing with a growing, inquisituve and challenging little boy. At three, he is now starting to test his limits and testing my nerves.

This means he is beginning to defy authority and assert his growing independence. Everything I've read indicates I should recognize that this is a developmental stage. Frequent eruptions and disobedience can be a sign of a strong-willed child, the experts say, and being strong-willed is not such a bad thing in today’s world.

Does this also apply if the child is a black male?

Some of my well-meaning friends don't take too kindly when I bring up race as a factor in how my grandson will be treated in the future. But when CNN does a story indictating that most employers say they would rather hire a white male who's a convicted felon over an African-American male with no criminal background, I have to wonder how my grandson's strong-willed manner will play out in society in the future.

Whether you want to admit or accept it, the playing field is not level for black males in this society, so it's up to me to make sure that strong will my grandson exhibits now, will be something positive and powerful in his future.


Rhea said…
Totally! It's about survival in a white-dominated society. This is not about boys, but I have a black friend (woman) who I was with the night Obama won the election. We were walking down the street and the whole neighborhood was yelling and celebrating. These are not her exact words, but she told me she wasn't going to join in because she had learned not to be so visible as a black woman. That sucks.
Beverly said…
You know I appreciate those who "get it." Your friend is right--once you reach a certain level as a black person you become more bland in an effort to fit in. It's like adding cream to the rich dark coffee. Conformity, unfortunately, has never been my thing and I have suffered consequences over the years as a result. But I choose to keep it real and keep an open dialogue about the real issues surrounding race and racism than to supress them. The Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs have no problem voicing their thoughts and opinions and have many followers.

Thanks very much for your comments.
You go Bev. Of course race is and will continue to be an issue for your grandson. My friend recently wrote an article on her site, Mother to Son, about her son's white friend calling him a Herschey. Those are types of things that parents and administrators try to overlook now, but then when the issue gets bigger, they try to act like they don't know how it started.
Kim said…
This is a great post because the truth is as a mom of 3 boys who blogs about this and speaks about this all the time the truth is black boys are treated differently and I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge that. That's reality. Because of this I believe having a strong willed child, (i.e., someone who can maneuver through obstacles, find a way when others see no way and understand that he has a place in this world) is critical. Strong will and disrepectfully defiant aren't the same thing. One of the things I have done to help nurture my sons strong will is to teach them right off the bat that life is unfair but it's unfairness is not irrevocable and that it's important they not become subjugated to the victim mentality. They too can and will participate in this so called American Dream not in spite of their strong will and independence but because of it.
Beverly said…

You said..."One of the things I have done to help nurture my sons strong will is to teach them right off the bat that life is unfair but it's unfairness is not irrevocable and that it's important they not become subjugated to the victim mentality."

I LOVE THAT! I do believe once children understand the real deal--they can function better in society. Too many parents sugar coat reality and when kids see it for themselves they tend to become dissillusioned and angry. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.
Beverly said…
Lisa Marie,

Too many parents--both black and white--tend to turn a blind eye and deaf ear when it comes to racism and what their kids are doing. And there are some parents who are totally responsible for their children's racist behavior. The apple never falls too far from the tree.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog (and for the Twitter connections).
Kathy Wulff said…

I'm sure you know it, but I just want to reiterate that the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, the late Jessie Helms, etc. do NOT speak for all white folks. Not even close. Many, many of us are just as appalled by the garbage that comes out of their mouths as you are.

Pat Montgomery said…
First, let me say that a CNN poll may have a slight bias due to corporate leanings, just as a Fox News poll may have a bias.

Bev, have you read anything by Kevin Jackson? Or his blog on The Black Sphere? Very interesting.

In my idealistic world I would hope we could move away from race, and have to some extent, and focus on raising children--not black children, white childre, Muslim children, Jewish children, etc.

Of course, heritage is part of who we are and should be celebrated. But it is not what defines us as individuals.

So raise that sweetie pie with his strong will, intelligence, and sense of humor to be the best Jarrod he can be, regardless of what is going on around him.

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