Every other Wednesday morning, I rush out of the house with my plastic storage box of seeds, plant supplies and curriculum for the group of 5th graders I teach how to grow crops in the school’s community garden. My son Zachary gets so excited about it that on the days there’s a scheduling conflict with his teacher, he volunteers himself and his buddies come help out with garden maintenance on their lunch hour, and they gladly participate.
It’s one thing to be seen as “cool” by your son’s 11 year-old buddies. Anyone who’s a parent knows how huge that is. But I can’t help but marvel at how the world has changed, and how a racially-ambiguous child happily and proudly parades his black mother is real progress.
There was once a time in our country that biracial people who could “pass” hid their black parents for fear of social ostracism, racism and even violence. And while the world isn’t perfect, we all should take a moment to express gratitude about how far we’ve come.
The fact that my son doesn’t have to wake up every morning worried about who might tease him for being “different” is a massive relief for me, especially since I was the object of relentless teasing and taunting as a child growing up in a nearly all-white working class town. I was only sometimes teased because of my blackness, to be fair. The other reason was legitimate: my mother dressed me funny.
I love that my son hasn’t been poisoned by the toxic colorism that plagues the black community, and that he can see me as beautiful in my own right, and, at 11 and a half, isn’t ashamed to hug me in front of his friends. Zachary is part of a whole new, and less imperfect world, and I’m so proud to be his mom.