Raising a Young Black American

Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Oprah Winfrey, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Denise McNair – the sweet victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963.

Ralph Abernathy, Maya Angelou, Josephine Baker, Benjamin Banneker, Bill Cosby, W. E. B. Dubois, Frederick Douglass, Ruby Bridges, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Lena Horne, Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, The Freedom Riders, Wilma Rudolph, Arthur Ashe, Sojourner Truth, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice.

In January, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and remember his dream.  As I drove to work on Martin Luther King Day, after dropping off my very sweet, happy boy, I realized how very blessed we are, how blessed he is, this young black American I’m raising.  And I realized how very far we have to go in this country towards racial equality and peace.

Yes we have inaugurated our first black President for the second time.  Barack Obama has been sworn into office as our 44th President of the United States of America.  I’m so proud of him, proud to be an American and to be able to bear witness to his leadership.

But it’s come with a great price in this country of mine. A great price.  Fear and hatred are running rampant. And racism is as entrenched in our lives as it ever was.

In fact, I’ve been told that a few patients have said, when told that my boss is going to be out of the office and that they can see her associate….”What color is she?”

Yes, they want to know what color I am.  This is how they determine whether I’m qualified to see their children.

By the color of my skin.

Not by my degrees.

Not by my knowledge and experience.

By the color of my skin.

Not by the content of my character.

By the color of my skin.

So as Dr. King said …

…I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

We will get to the promised land.  I know we will. However, I am sadly sure I can look my sweet little boy in the eye and say I’ve seen the Promised Land, but I may not get there with him.

So this abbreviated list of African Americans who have made a difference in the lives of so many, certainly in my life will be on my list of people in history I have to be sure Tate learns about.  He has to learn of whence he came.  And I’m missing a LOT of people on my list.  There are many more.  And I will have to be the one to teach him, and in doing so learn myself.  Because I am concerned that he will NOT learn enough about them in any formal education in his lifetime.  This is taught by word of mouth.

And I’m forgetting I have two amazing African Americans in our lives right now who lived during the height of the Civil Rights Movement…his grandparents.  They can educate us both.  I intend for us to start as soon as we next see them.

So tonight I’m so very excited that President Obama is beginning his second term.  I am excited about all the good I know he can and will bring to this country.  I have hope that this very divided country can come back together and start to mend our very divided hearts.

May God bless us one and all and may God Bless America.

Jennifer C

4 thoughts on “Raising a Young Black American”

  1. We keep hoping for that ultimate change, but it happens at a snail’s pace, not at our pace. I am always still shocked when I hear about racist comments. I know it exists–out there, somewhere–but somehow to hear someone else say that a patient asked about what color she is…it’s just so…disheartening. Unfortunately racism is passed down through families and communities and as long as people keeping teaching racist ideas to their children and communities continue to have group think racism, it will continue to be a battle.

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