The Son's Perspective
My parents probably worry about me every night when I go out. For example, if I am in the elevator with that White woman, is she going to clutch her purse closer to herself? Am I going to be shot because I am mistaken for somebody else when I go to that club? When you raise a Black child, you are raising an endangered species. I don't have anything guaranteed to me. I have to work for it ten times as hard.
We were the only two Black students in the high school who wanted to take the honors classes, who wanted to go for the more challenging courses. The other Black students looked down on us. "Why are you guys trying to be like that? Why are you guys trying to be White?" The way to overcome that is to understand what you have to deal with, and not become blindsided or distraught over people's ignorance, perceptions. I hope that this book will shed a little bit more light on why we really need to nurture the talent in our children.
A White male doesn't have to fight society's view of you. They're already saying, "Oh, well, you can be a doctor, you can be this." But if you're a person of color, you have to prove that you can excel, can be a doctor. It's sort of like you're assumed guilty until proven innocent.
In this first of two chapters focused on the sons, we explore the challenges they faced and why they think they succeeded where so many other African American males have not. In many regards, their messages are similar to those we heard from the parents, but with a different resonance and emphasis. New perspectives are voiced about challenges faced and about factors leading to success that the parents either were not aware of or did not think were particularly important.
This chapter highlights the varied nature of the family, the challenges facing each son in school and the neighborhood, and the factors that helped the sons succeed. In the two preceding chapters, commonalities across the families were emphasized. We are now ready to por