Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Give back the little black boy"

We were in a commercial break during our morning newscast.  It was 6:40 and my co-anchor, John, made a quick trip to the KPLC mail room to pick up the mail of the day.

Sometimes it's an encouraging card from a viewer, a news release about an upcoming event, there are the random letters from inmates, and sometimes it is a "concerned citizen."

You don't know what you are getting until you open it up.

John handed me a piece of mail addressed to "B. Glaser" with no return address.

I knew that was a red flag.

But, I could feel there was a card inside of the envelope, which made me think it could be a kind note.  Who would want to waste a piece of stationary on criticism?

So I opened it...

"Give back the little black boy while you have a chance."

I stopped there, feeling my heart racing and the tears starting to rise to the surface.

I couldn't cry.  I was about to be back on camera to read the next news story.

I handed the letter to John, who read it, and whose face could not hide the disgust I knew must mean every word was hate-filled.

In the next commercial break, I picked up the card again:


Give back the little black boy while you have a chance.

They grow up to be out of control and rapists.  It's a breed you cannot deny.

I work with black teens 2-3 times a week.  They talk about having sex.

Don't let your daughter get raped when he is a teenager.

I'm older, but have seen what happens when blacks get to be of age.

Maybe you are trying to make a point with adoption.  You don't need to do that.  You are already well liked.

A Concerned Citizen.

I'm not racist.

I think I forgot to breathe.



My daughter being attacked by my son - all because she's white and he's black?

Making a point with adoption?

And all of this was written inside a patriotic-themed card with the American flag on the front.  The flag that represents liberty and justice for all.

The wheels in my head were spinning.  I kept telling myself, "This is one person.  One person's opinion.  One person's perception.  One person's ignorance."

But the harsh reality is that where there is one, there are more - who claim "I'm not racist," yet identify certain people as a "breed," or intrinsically criminalistic.

I do not have concerns about our son - the person being referred to as "the little black boy" -  morphing into a rapist as he "gets to be of age."

I would be lying to say I don't have concerns, though, about raising a black child in today's society.

All I have to do is read the news of the day to have some of those concerns in my face: two more deadly officer-involved shootings of black men in one week.  Regardless of where you fall on the "were they armed," "were they reaching for weapons," or "what's their rap sheet" spectrum - the fact is my heart aches watching another video of a black man shot to death.

Adding even more pain is the audio recording of an officer who states one victim "looks like a bad dude" based solely on his appearance as he walked to his stalled SUV with his hands in the air.

Our son will be taught by us that there is never, ever, in any circumstance, a reason to resist an officer.  Don't move unless you are told to move.  Do not reach for your license, your insurance card, or step out of the car if you have a question.  Don't adjust your pants if they seem off center.  Submit.  Period.

Will our two white daughters have to worry about taking such a cautious approach?  Probably not.

We recognize our son will encounter obstacles and prejudices that we never experienced.

It's pretty easy to accept and love on an adorable one-year-old, but what about when he's a little older?

Will he be invited to a classmate's birthday party?

Will he be watched more closely on the toy aisle as he tests out the wheels of a race car?

Will he be followed at the store as he tries on a pair of shoes?

Will he be able to ask a girl to the homecoming dance, regardless of the color of her skin?

Will he be accused of "trying to be white" or "not being black enough" because his family dynamics look different than the norm?

Will he know how much it matters to us, his parents, to respect and honor his racial heritage?

We do not need to be color blind.  Color is beautiful.  Differences can be celebrated.

It's okay if the first thing you notice about my son when you see him is the color of his skin.  But it's not okay if the next thing you do is make judgments based on that color.

I promise you that if you take a second to see him for more than his color, you will see his beautiful amber-brown eyes that smile when he smiles.  Then you will notice his dimply cheeks.  And that gap-toothed smile...oh my gosh.

He just started giving fall-into-you-with-all-of-my-weight hugs.  He will blow you a kiss when you say "goodbye."

And his newest word he can sign is "pretty," a word that he does not use discriminately - because we are all made in the image of God.

To the "concerned citizen" who wrote me that card: thank you for reminding me of just how lucky we are to be the parents of "the little black boy." He's a special guy and we know God has big plans for him.