So, the Superbowl was yesterday. Yet another sporting event that I didn’t get to watch in its entirety due to having kids. I used to be a big sports fan. Back in the day (pre-June 2005) I would actually watch an entire
day of football game without having to wipe butts, feed hungry mouths or entertain two non-football-loving toddlers. But that isn’t what this post is about.
Yesterday, two African-American head coaches squared off in the Superbowl for the first time ever. Heck, it was the first time even one African-American had coached a team in the Superbowl so it was a historic occasion in a league that has been very slow to accept African-Americans in positions of leadership. This is important to me because I never forget that my children are 1/4 African-American. I don’t want my own children to forget that either. I want them to understand where they came from and how difficult it has been for those of African-American ancestry to get ahead in our society.
Truth be told, they will probably never experience the prejudice and hatred that many in our society do because of the color of their skin. By looking at Swee’Pea and TheMonk you would be hard pressed to pin an ethnic heritage on them. And I kinda like it that way. But by no means does it make who they are and where they come from any less significant. They are 1/4 African-American (along with 1/4 Mexican, some Native American and Caucasian) and all those backgrounds make up who they are. I can’t wait to teach them about those who came before them. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Marian Wright Edleman, Barack Obama, and Tony Dungy along with Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Roberto Clemente, and Alberto Gonzales all paved the way for my children. I want them to respect who they are and those who came before them and know that it hasn’t been easy for people of color to succeed in this country. That we need to be a solution to inequality rather than a silent contributor. That we recognize all the good that comes from being different but still recognize that we are all the same.
As I progress into parenthood I find it easy to teach my children certain things. I can teach them to say please and thank you. I can teach them to feed themselves. I can even teach them to laugh at my stupid jokes. But the real challenge – the much more difficult aspect of parenting – is teaching them what to be rather than how to be. My hope is that someday my children will understand and love where they came from and that they will look upon those less fortunate than themselves and ask, “What can I do?” That alone will make me feel succesful as a parent.
For a great insight into what it’s like being an African-American parent today, I highly suggest you read African-American Dad.
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