A simple ‘truth’ just hit me with incredible weight. I just realized that my son may be raised in the middle class. This means that he and I will have different cultures and probably struggle to relate to each other.
Most people may think, so what? Isn’t that a good thing?
I can’t say that it is. I grew up somewhere between the working class and the working poor. My parents had stable jobs, but we always lived paycheck to paycheck, and they pulled a lot of payday loans to save the day. At one point, my dad got into some trouble with loan sharks, but I don’t know the details. It’s just my mom’s suspicion.
These experiences from being ‘poor’ are a major factors in my identity. They shape many of my decisions and actions.
As a teacher, I’ve discovered that I relate to a lot more of my poorer students than the wealthier ones. In fact, when I taught in an affluent neighborhood, I found it impossible to instruct the kids. My teaching style and personality all depend on relating to someone. It’s about culture.
In its simplest form, you could say that it’s about being Black.
The Black kids in my neighborhood all struggled. Our poverty shaped our speech patterns, gestures, and even the way we danced. Now, I’m passing those habits onto my kid. And I can see my “hood” nature rubbing off on him. But those traits won’t stick if many of his friends are middle class whites and Asians when he gets older. (Even now, all of the kids in his daycare are from one of those two ethnic backgrounds).
Don’t get me wrong, I respect and admire all cultures. However, I have my own culture that I admire as well. I fear that my son will have different experiences, which will ultimately make it impossible to connect with him.
For me, that thought is slightly terrifying. I want my son to grow up in a safe environment. Yet, I also want him to share some of my culture. Most of my culture. I want to connect with him. We’ll always have love and a strong relationship. (I know this). But again, I desperately hope that he can experience the beauty of our culture.
The media may paint Black people in a negative light, but I love who we are. And I want my son to love his skin too.