I’m Voting for Oscar
This is my son Oscar. In case you can’t see the picture, he looks nothing like me because he’s adopted. He’s also friggin’ adorable, but that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because my son is black and despite the fact that he will grow up in a family that has the means to provide him with a good education and far more opportunity than a lot of children in America — including me — the sheer fact that his skin is dark means he will grow up in a far different America than I did.
He will be suspected when he enters a store. He will be treated differently in school. He will be policed differently. If he commits a crime, he will be six times more likely to be incarcerated than his white friends in daycare; and if it’s a drug offense, he’ll be ten times more likely to serve time.
He will be feared by default. He will be suspected by default. He will be guilty by default. All because he’s black.
I don’t want him to grow up in an America where he could have his life ended during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. I listened to Diamond Reynolds’ recording of Philando Castile dying and I had to stop the car and cry; I couldn’t bear to watch the video. He was someone else’s son. Someone else’s little boy.
This is not the America I want Oscar to grow up in and we have an opportunity to change it. I fully recognize that the societal issues that underly the way we (as a nation) treat the black community and other people of color in the U.S. are not new, nor are they going to go away overnight. It’s going to take time and commitment to making it happen.
What I also know, however, is that electing a president who proposes racist policies, uses racist rhetoric, and gins up racial tensions among his supporters is not going to make America a safer place for Oscar to grow up. A man who routinely derides and demonizes immigrant populations of varying shades (despite marrying numerous immigrants himself) is not going to lead us to be a more inclusive nation. And a man who has a history of treating the black community unfairly is not going to be the champion we need to help unify our different racial and ethnic communities into that melting pot of ideas and cultures we’ve been taught is America’s greatest strength.
When I go to the polls this Fall to help my country choose its next leader, I will be thinking of my son and all of the other children in this great nation of ours. I will think about the future America they stand to inherit and I will vote against Donald Trump. I hope you will join me in taking a stand against fear, against further segregation of our society, and against racism. America is already great, and it will be much better without Trump.
Originally published at www.aaron-gustafson.com on October 11, 2016.