I am the proud dad of two teenagers. While it has been a wonderful ride being their dad, I have experienced challenges beyond the typical teenage angst some parents have endured.
You see, my kids’ mom is African American, so my kids are biracial. Austin, my son, favors his mother, so while he has a white dad, for all intents and purposes he is received and treated by society as if he were black.
There have been some awkward moments from those asking me to explain how I’m really Austin’s dad, but our family has developed a sense of humor about it. We laugh about the whip lash that so many must suffer as they look back and forth, back and forth between Austin and I, trying make sense of it all.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been fun and games. I have had my heart broken, when in Yosemite a 3 year old Austin asked his mom what N—– meant. Apparently some adults felt it necessary to let Austin know how they felt about him. How unthinkably cruel and inhumane to subject a young, innocent child to such vile language. 14 years later I still tear up when I think about it.
It saddens me that we live in a world where racism still exists and I worry about what Austin will face as he becomes a man and makes his way into a world that is not always welcoming to those who look like him.
Now, I’m not here to start a debate about racism, but it brings me to wonder, what other areas do we jump to conclusion and mistreat others just based on our own preconceived notions?
Whether we admit it or not, how much do we pre-judge when it comes to not only race, but physical appearance, socio-economic status, gender, religion, sexuality, and a myriad of other conditions in which we use to form judgments on someone before we even have a chance to really get to know them.
As with the issue with my children, I don’t have an easy answer. But do I hope that with each uncomfortable incident, we can remember to take a step back, to take pause before offering a quick reaction or a knee-jerk defense.
I look forward to the day when our society can see my kids for what they are — who we all are — loving, kind, funny, intelligent, decent people.
Stress Release Tip
A flight or fight moment can quickly come and go, particularly during a false alarm. However, the physiological effects can linger. Take 3 deep cleansing breaths, relax your shoulders and jaws where tension is so often held. Roll your neck clockwise then counterclockwise. It was a false alarm. Return to your natural state of ease and grace.
All of us use profiling techniques as a way of quickly accessing a situation. In prehistoric times our survival depended on our ability to sniff out dangerous situations quickly. Today, while this survival technique at times is necessary, many tend to misread innocent situations as threatening. The next time you feel a rush to judgment, slow down and breathe. Use your rational mind to more thoughtfully access the situation and let go of pre-conceived notions.
Quote From Jon
“Free your mind and the rest will follow, be color blind, don’t be so shallow.”
– En Vogue
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