The Heavy Burden of Teaching My Son About American Racism


Jemar Tisby’s essay in The Atlantic, prompted by a visit with his 7-year-old son to the Emmett Till Museum in Glendora, Mississippi, describes the difficulties and the necessity of black parents’ talking to their children about the consequences of racism. “Every parent—whether deliberately or not—sends a message to his or her children about race, but the legacy of race-based chattel slavery means that for black parents the process of deliberation is unavoidable and particularly fraught.”

He concludes by saying, “I want to tell my child that today life is better for black people. It is certainly different. People of color can enter any public building. We can make meaningful movies that bring in a billion dollars. We can even be president. At the same time, I have to prepare my black son for a nation still gripped by the myth of white supremacy. The best I can do, I’ve concluded, is err on the side of honesty. If my black son has to learn that society will hate him, then let him hear about it from someone who unconditionally loves him.”  To read the complete essay, click here.


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