I’m with my grandson in the parking lot of Sevananda pushing
him in the grocery cart heading for the store when the sun bursts out of the
overcast skies, toasting us with hot, bright rays. He holds out his arm,
looking down at it, urging me to hurry – not because the moist warm air bathing
us is suddenly hot as hell but because he declares he doesn’t want to get any
Now here is a little boy who has the most beautiful golden
brown skin ever, a boy whose mom is half black, half white and whose sperm
donor is Black; a boy who lives in a house full of Black people, a neighborhood
that is predominantly Black, a boy who went to an Afro-centric school one of
his pre-school years, a Black Montessori school for his other pre-school year,
and for first grade to a home school that is all Black. He is on a Black soccer
team with a Black coach and all his friends are Black.
A boy for whom Black is the “norm” in his every day life,
and who should be Black and proud – a boy who at three years old claimed he was
white and vehemently denied he is Black. But when I asked him what it means to
be white, he looked confused and couldn’t put into words what it meant to him.
When he was four, he
proudly and confidently confided in me that he is now “peach”. He then told me that when white people want
to be dark they go out into the sun.
Next, he holds his arm up to me and asks me what do dark
people do to be white?
Now at 6 years old, in the parking lot with me encouraging
him to embrace the sun’s rays, he wistfully tells me that he wishes he is white
and when I ask why, he turns his black sad eyes on me and tells me something
like I should know: it is better to be white.