To follow up on our discussion of race last month (see here and here), I want to share an essay in the Boston Globe written by a very old friend of mine, Michael Fitzgerald. Mike, who is white, is married to a black woman and they have two teenage sons. He says things I have heard countless black fathers say, but he adds his own poignant perspective. Here are a few passages: I urge you to read the whole thing.
Nearly a decade ago, I wrote an article in this space about how being the white father of black children didn’t seem to mean much in 21st-century America. … I probably thought they would be able to pick being black or white or something entirely different. That was naive.
Still, when I look at them, I just see my boys. I need to know better. … Other people see them as black. That means they are subject to a different set of stereotypes and social rules than I. That’s true even in progressive Cambridge, where we live.
I’ll never be a black dad. But I do share some things with black fathers across the country: pride. And fear….I have an inkling of just how sheltered white dads can be. White dads can be angry about the killing of Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, because why wouldn’t we be? But dads of white sons don’t get the phone call Trayvon Martin’s father got. White sons don’t get shot because of the way they look.