The Cultural Adaptation Of A Kid

I was driving my nephew home from Five Guys Burgers after school the other day, and he says “This is close to where Grandma lives.” I was a little confused, “Your Grandma is in Haiti.” (Turns out she’s in Canada, but she was still in Haiti until recently.) “Do you mean your Daddy’s mom? Did she move down here?”  “No, my brown-skin Grandma.” I was perplexed, but then he went on to start telling me about Martin Luther King, Jr. “We wouldn’t be friends if it wasn’t for him. It would’ve been against the law.” or something, I don’t remember the exact words, but I was caught off guard.

Apparently one of his babysitters has been teaching him about Martin Luther King, which I suppose is normal enough, but it also immediately set off warning bells. I’ve already watched one nephew grow through high school with its black studies cirriculum, and watched the struggle that seemed to me as a long distance observer to have coincided. It immediately made me wonder if it had anything to do with the bad behaviour he was showing early in the week when he first started staying over. (he’s settled down, since I try to get him out of the house to do something after school now). It made me wonder and worry, is he starting to get the kind of teaching that leads to “angry young black man” syndrome?

I immediately begin to suspect “brown skin” Grandma isn’t Haitian, as it seems Haitians don’t largely foster the  same cultural resentment towards whites as it sure seems like a large segment of American blacks do. As a guy who will likely be watching this kid grow through his teenage years, I sure don’t want to see him go the AYBM route. I have no idea how big this nephew will grow to; my other nephew was in his 6 foot threes when he went through that phase of his life. So, there’s the “hey, I just want to distance myself from that attitude” self-interest involved, as well as the “hey, I’d really like to see this kid turn out all right” part, which I suppose is in everyone’s interest.

I really wasn’t going to share this, I mean some day the kid’s going to grow up, and maybe even read my public scribblings. But, you know, I stumbled across some sites today that made me think of it. Because, well, while I share some of the concerns of white folk who are worried about the future of white folk, it’s a little troubling to see how some of them, us, I guess, express our concerns. There are certainly plenty of problems in America, both black and white. Our current batch of elected officials are bitter politicians, not public servants, and there is good reason to be concerned. The one thing all of us can do, is reach out where it makes sense to.

update: some reading.

unfortunately, I think many have absorbed this culture in negative ways, for instance when Representative Sheila Jackson Lee says “I stand here as a freed slave…”, I think she believes it, one, and two, she is completely unaware of how ridiculous saying stuff like that makes her look to an outsider.


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