Is The Grass Always Greener?
So, my ten year old son and I are sitting in a restaurant eating dinner when he tells me that on occasion some of his friends have told him that they wish they were black. Is this alarming? It depends on the perspective of the parents I guess. When my daughter at three years of age told me that she wished she was white, I straight up freaked out! Why? Because, while it definitely validated her intelligence and observational skills (How long does it take even a child to figure out a certain level of skin privilege exists for people who are in the majority?), it also caused her mother and I concern that our lovely little brown skinned baby may be on the road to devaluing her own reality. Those were scary times. So, I can only imagine the reaction of white parents whose children might come home and say “Mom/Dad, I wish I was black.”
A child wishing she or he was black is a statement about how much our society has changed, even though many of my colleagues in the academy would beg to differ. Think about it, 60 years ago, I can’t even imagine a white child in this country saying to someone, "I wish I was black!” The context of blackness and the opportunities associated with having a black paint job (dark skin) were so very different than they are today. Today a child might say that, primarily because there is a preponderance of black role models in American society, as opposed to 60 years ago, when there was only Jackie Robinson, and he was just breaking in, and that was only in baseball.
What is more intriguing to me about my son’s statement was imaging how often a child might say “I wish I was Mexican, or Native American, or Asian, or gay, or poor, or disabled. How often does a little boy say I wish I was a girl? I guess being black in America may not always be the best thing to be, but it appears to definitely not be the worst. What are your thoughts?