Monday, July 15
MONDAY MOTIVATION: A Conversation We Need to Have with Our Sons
My heart has been heavy since the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case came back not guilty. My social media feeds were immediately filled with people expressing everything from outrage, to shock, disappointment, justification and joy. It's honestly in times like these that you really get to see the minds and hearts of the people you choose to surround yourself with in life and even in your social media life. Many, expressed how appalled they were by the insensitivity of many of their friends or followers. Thankfully, my friend list is filled with people who are like minded so I only saw comments expressing the same kind of hurt that I was (regardless of their race).
This case was a very controversial and charged case because it had people on such polar ends of the spectrum with their thoughts and opinions. The case dug up issues of race, class, white privilege, stereotypes, and so many more 'isms' and limitations that many thought were problems of yesteryear. This case and the final verdict proved that there is a long way to go before these issues will be gone for good (if ever).
The one thing that became dramatically clear throughout all of this is that there is an important conversation to be had with our children (especially our young boys) about what this all means for them. I think all races and cultures need to have a conversation but the content of the discussion will vary from household. From this verdict, it is easy for young black men and boys to feel that their life has no value here. That even when they are the victim, they will be persecuted and treated as the criminal. Leading to many internalizing issues of self worth and creating an attitude where they do not want to cooperate with authority (because what's the point?). There is an important conversation that needs to be had in black households that reminds our children that yes we have come far because we have a black president and many more positive representations of black people in top positions, but there are still many ignorant people out there that still on see the color of your skin as a threat.
Black boys need to be told that there is always a possibility that they will be tried by someone who sees their skin color as a threat and as a criminal. In these instances, they need to keep their wits about them. Focus on surviving.
We need to remind our boys that the best way to shift people's views about you is to create excellence in yourself. Be educated, be talented, be your best. Also, be educated about the legal system and know your rights (very important!).
And, the last thing that we need to tell our boys is that they do have value and they are worthy. No matter what anyone says or society tries to make you feel, you are important. Racism is a complex issue that is part of a larger social context that is ingrained in the minds of many people but that is something wrong them not you.
I'm so heartbroken for Trayvon's family and for the message that it sends our children but I have faith and believe that this is a teachable lesson for us all that we need to continue to have these conversations and mentor our youth. Keep them close to us.
Darren Anthony's play, Secrets of a Black Boy, will be on stage in Toronto on July 27th and he is introducing a community forum for the first time after his matinee performance. In light of the discussion that has been brought up again with the Trayvon case, Darren along with community activists want to create an open discussion with youth in the community to share their struggles and frustrations.
To find out more info about the play and forum or to purchase tickets, go to: https://secretsofablackboy.eventbrite.ca/?nomo=1