“My Brown Son Doesn’t Get The Benefit Of The Doubt Like My White Son Does.”
Story by Kym Glaspie Russell
I cannot and will not remain silent.
I think it’s human nature to distance oneself from tragedy. You hear a news story and you quickly assess all the ways you are different from that victim. You rationalize why and how that victim ended up a victim. It allows you to think “It will not happen to me. It will not happen to my family”. It allows you to keep your peace.
But recent events have me pausing, and I’m begging you to pause, too. Slow down your automatic thought process, challenge your own personal bias for a moment and hear me out.
I have raised a white son and I have raised a black son. On paper they are the same. Tall, athletic, smart, kind. I love them equally and fiercely. Society, however, judges one by the content of his character and the other by the color of his skin.
As a mother it breaks my heart to write this or even to think it. I want my sons to live in a loving and accepting world. But my brown son has to deal with things my white son never had to and never will. Living in denial could cost my son his life.
My brown son doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt like my white son does. He has been questioned in stores, walking in his own neighborhood, pulled over multiple times. Assumptions have been made that he lives in the projects, people act surprised when they hear how “articulate” he is or that he’s actually smart and not just a skilled athlete…. And even though my white son is equally as eloquent no one has ever considered it noteworthy. It’s just a given.
I HATE that these things are true. I want people to see Kaden and see what I see…. the kid that never enters or leaves the house without hugging me, the kid that carries groceries without being asked, and who volunteers to help the homeless, tutor and coach youth, binge watches Jeopardy and the Office and thinks deeply about complex topics. He listens to rap, but will also crone out country tunes and knows every lyric to eighties hair band songs. He’s a kid who tells me the truth even when it hurts. I want them to see the kind heart, the smiling eyes and the gentle soul. But, often what they see is a big, strong, black guy. They see a threat. A thug.💔💔💔💔 😭😭😭
‘Not being racist’ is not enough. Stand up for what is right and just. Challenge unconscious bias, stereotypes and fear based hate. Listen out for and correct micro inequities. When you see a black or brown person remember they are someone’s baby…. And quite possibly MY baby boy. They are more than a color, more than a label. Be kind, be brave, take a stand and make love win.
And since I’ve already written a novel I’ll add that the same message applies for stereotyping, fearing and hating police. They too are individuals and cannot be categorically classified. Most are committed, loving, caring and hard-working individuals. Support those who are doing the right thing and DO NOT tolerate those who are abusing power.
In my family we have open, honest and meaningful conversations about race. I’ve learned a lot from LISTENING to people of color explain their perspective. If you’ve never had the opportunity to do this I would strongly encourage you to do so. If you don’t know how to start please reach out to me. I’m happy to share my journey.
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