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Raisin’ In Minnesota: Raising A Black Man In America

My husband is my best friend. This means we can share anything with each other and we will not hold it against the other. If it makes us angry, we don’t go to bed mad. We also have a second marriage pact. This means we don’t give up on each other. We were both married before to people who didn’t really mean till death do us part. I was never going to get married again. I never wanted to break that vow again before God, so this is a big deal for me.

So while invoking his best friend card my husband makes a remark about the Trayvon Martin case. It hurts his soul that this young boy was shot for WWB (walking while Black). He says he can’t watch it anymore and I can tell he is thinking about our girls. Then he says, “I’m ashamed to say it, but I’m so glad we had girls.” I just looked at him. He said, “I’m sorry, I just know that I would be a mess with worry if we were raising a Black Man in America.” I was a little surprised, but I knew what he meant.

Until nine years ago he has not really had to worry about how the world would treat his children. He knew they would be smart and loved and face few trials if they stayed the course and went to school. He worried for their safety and checked on them regularly even keeping a Florida cell phone number so they could call him from any phone. He never worried about people shooting them unarmed for walking in a white neighborhood.  When we got married, we discussed culture, we discussed names, we discussed number of children but we failed to discuss raising a Black male child. I figured I’d cross that bridge if it was necessary.

I have to admit I have had an easy life compared to my brother. I have been followed while shopping and had people assume I would be the angry Black woman in the office. However, I have never been treated with brute force for just existing, but my brother has. He was beaten up for being in a nice neighborhood at the wrong time. The problem was that this neighborhood was ours.  The good thing was that he was raised by our mother who had instructed him to just hold his temper.  I’m sure this lead to his later anger issues, but it kept him alive. She also chose to use the system to her advantage. The day after my brother’s unfortunate incident my mother drove him to the police station with her friend who was an attorney.  This friend proceeded to explain the situation, my brother described his attackers and her friend explained that we would be pressing charges.  Not everyone has friends like this, but it was my mother’s way of keeping her son alive and showing him that with the right recourse and persistence, justice would be served. Three boys were sent to juvenile hall for attacking my brother. This was the perseverance I would have if I had a boy. I knew I had it in me. I am very much my mother’s daughter.

So I looked at my husband and said “I know, you would lose it if this happened to your son. But I am prepared, and I know my girls will be prepared to raise their sons.  I’m convinced God only gives us what we can bare.”  I said to Jeff, “just  take comfort in knowing that if we had a son, you would not be raising him alone.”

I, too, thank the Lord that we have girls, but I may be blessed with grandsons, and I’ll be ready. Interracial couples getting married definitely have different things to think about when having children, I am glad my husband and I can still talk about all the stuff we forgot to broach.

What do you think? Do you know books to recommend on interracial couples raising Black males?  How are you raising your African American sons in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case?

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Hillery Smith Shay, is a proven leader in Visual Communications and New Media Marketing. She holds a MBA, from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Haverford College. Shay is an award-winning photographer who has worked for the Associated Press and various newspapers. Hillery resides in West Saint Paul with her husband Jeff and their daughters Jenna and Hayden. She is also the proud stepmother of Erin, Ginger and Jack. Read more about her at hilleryshay.com and follow her on Twitter too.

 

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