Racial Consciousness: How White Boys Are Deprived Without It

Want to find about a million hits on Google?  Type in "Racial Equity for Children of Color."  Be prepared to be overcome with a vast wealth of research, methods, scholarly articles, blog posts, data, physical proof, anecdotes, dissertations... you name it, you'll find it. There is no doubt about the positive impact on children of color when placed in educational environments where they are understood, represented, loved,  and celebrated for who they are.  The same must be said for adults of color who are promoted, revered, appealed to, and fairly compensated in workplaces.  It has been proven that racial equity destroys systems which negatively affect the lives of people of color.

Nobody talks about the positive impact that race consciousness can have on white boys.

I mean, why do we even need to?  This country was stolen by white boys.  People were enslaved by white boys.  It was a white boy who was responsible for the holocaust, and, if we do not resist, there's a white boy with orange hair who is inevitably going to cause another one, right here in America.  White boys have higher test scores in school, even though it doesn't scientifically mean they are smarter by any measure.  Even poorer white boys fare better in our education system than middle-class black boys - so money plays no part in white supremacy.  White boys make more money than white girls, who make more money than Black girls, who make more money than Latina girls - all performing the same job.  White transgender boys are subject to less hate crimes than black transgender girls.  White boys in the police force kill black boys and get away with it. The list can go on and on.  It seems that White boys have the upper hand with the systems of American culture being as-is.

So, is the thought that white boys unexposed to antiracism are being deprived a little far reaching?


You see, I've not met a baby that is capable of prejudice at birth.  As they grow, a bit of pre-judging is a tool of survival - though he may warm up to someone who looks different, a toddler is more apt to blindly trust people who look like his mother.  When they begin to talk, they begin to discern value placed on words based on context and tone.  Conversations about people of different races, representation on television, in books, and in everyday life routines further solidify the supremacy of one racial group as status quo.  By the time he enters Kindergarten - and depending on his school and class - he has pre-conceived conclusions drawn about people of color.  

The cold thing about it is that this boy is going to have to eventually grow up, get a life partner, seek his fortune, and make decisions that ultimately affect people of color at some point.  He may be a human resources manager or a police officer.  He may be a mortgage loan officer or a car dealer.  He may be a bus driver, or he may be a teacher.  His embedded fear and unconscious disdain will eventually - and often - paralyze his ability to act with fairness, empathy, and equity.  His own feelings will take a front seat to the needs of those he works with, sleeps with, and, should he marry a woman of color, the children he raises.  He will deny loans.  He will mislabel behaviors.  He will deny jobs, terminate employees, or decline requests for raises. He will arrest, jail, shoot out of fear. 

In sum, white folks, if you are adopting the idea of colorblindness, claiming that everyone is the same, which you KNOW we're not, you're raising little self centered, misogynistic, privileged Jerkosauruses Rex.  And it's not only unfair to the people of color for whom his decisions will affect.  It's not fair to him.  You see, you are depriving him.  You are denying him the body-leaning, head-back-throwing, echoing laughter that comes from Black children.  You are denying him the rhythm and the rhyme of black music, hand games, double dutch.  You are taking away his shot at pop-locking - not like MJ, but like Rerun.  You're putting him in Spanish classes to increase his marketability, and simultaneously extinguishing the language skills he will pick up by understanding vernacular English. He can't shake his rump because he was told it was vulgar, while Black children in the south, in the Caribbean, in Puerto Rico, in Brazil, shake it up proudly in street parades.  You're hindering his body positivity.  You are snatching the mic from his hand, the metaphor from his mouth, and the beat from his heart - freestyle rap. You are pulverizing the rocking lilt of Mariachi music, denying his ears of beautiful canciones del amor.  You're taking the bachata from his feet, and the butterflies in the belly from the beautiful batting eyelashes of the Mexican girl.  You're taking the pillars of leading a wholesome life that come from Muslim children, and putting it in a locked box that your son cannot access.  You are robbing your son of the creative urban-legend storytelling of Black children, so he doesn't know how to engage, exaggerate, elaborate when he speaks or writes - because you misunderstood their stories and called them lies, and forbid your son from repeating them.  You deny your son the spiritual presence that resides in every Native American child, and the cunningness and wit of the Asian child. You are withholding the unparalleled, passionate love of a Black woman and the amor carinosa, doting, caring love of a Latina woman.  Because of your ambivalence and fear, your son will miss out on the heartfelt comraderie and brotherhood of a Black man, and the ethical pride and confidence of the Latino man. You dull his rainbow of colors and tones of Puerto Rican women and men - you dump out the induplicable swagger sauce he got from them too. You deny him of the adrenaline rush and swelling of the heart that occurs when one stands up for injustices against people of color.  You stunt his persuasive skills by never having discussions about race, what it means to be a white "race traitor" when he calls out racism, and how to get his point across to benefit the greater good.  You are stripping him of his knowledge of who he is, relative to how he shows up to others in white and multicultural contexts, in historical and present day contexts, and denying him of his potential to shift the race paradigm.

You do this at the park when you don't speak to people of color in front of your child.  You do this on the school playgrounds when you hover over your child's play, making children of color want to go away, feeling your eyeballs staring through them.  You do this when you make comments in your home about people of color - their names, their lifestyles, their walk, their talk, their dress, their worship, their childrearing, their chlidren, when you don't even know any.  You do this when you make playdates with white classmates' parents while walking directly past parents of color without so much as a smile. Now all he knows how to do is make demands, get mad then they are not met, and attempt to enforce them, just as the founding fathers did. You do this when you make demands of your child's teacher of color, that you do not uphold yourself. You may not intend this outcome, but that's what you're doing. And, Mom, Dad, Grandpa - what gives you that right?  What gives you license to control your son's future ability to love - and be loved by- an array of people, due to both your willful AND unconscious bias?  Your son is in your care, but he does not belong to you.  He is his own person who deserves a fair opportunity to the happiness and fulfillment that comes with a racially diverse life.

Every white male teacher I have ever met in the field, regardless of their age, experience, upbringing, or level of racial consciousness, speaks of a little boy inside who craves more genuine, authentic experiences with people of color.  They tell me of their inability to connect.  They tell me about their boring, pasta with butter, mayonnaise, cucumber, vanilla, rhythmless, curveless, swagless, humdrum lives, where their bellies are full of different cultures' foods, but their hearts are empty of different cultures' souls and love. So, if I'm too harsh for you, (first of all you should leave my page) at least listen to these men.

Your white sons will be the next men who drive commerce, law, and policy in our country - along with my black son.  Our country is forecast to not be a white majority country - soon.  And Portland, especially the metro areas, is diversifying without signs of slowing down.  You are setting him up to get fired for being an asshat to POC, or arrested for taking his rage out on civilians. (You mad? Look at the data on domestic terrorism and who is committing it the most.  Your sons and nephews.  Numbers lie not.)

Raising white boys to see their privilege and use their moral compasses to actively interrupt it begins the labor pains of true racial equity.  Parents, it will hurt.  I'm not white, but I've personally seen white folk stand up, only to lose family, friends, jobs, spouses.  Pain is a part of labor.  Breathe and push! Not only is racial consciousness vital to the interruption of systemic and personally meditated racism in our schools, jobs, prisons, banks, churches, stores, and places of business,  it's good for the soul of the ones who have always had privilege anyway - the white human boy.  He was put into your arms for you to help him grow into his best life.  Don't let your racial ambivalence rob him of it.  Nurture the baby.  Privilege is not his birthright.  Racial consciousness is.