Please Remember My Black Son
Matt Stauffer

A couple of thoughts:

You wrote “ I’m a White guy from the suburbs, and my son will be a young Black man. Soon. And I’m scared to death.”

You knew that you were a white guy, and you knew that your wife was black, before you decided to have children. And yet you decided to have them, which (more or less) results a 50–50 chance of producing a half-black son. Is it unreasonable for others to wonder why you didn’t think of the possible outcomes for him before you decided to have children?

My husband had a friend in college who had cystic fibrosis. She decided to have children, despite CF being genetically-carried. Sure enough, one of her two sons has CF. She died at 30 (outliving the life-expectancy of CF sufferers by a decade), and her son with CF is battling its effects. Such are the risks that people seem to be willing to take with the lives of others who have not yet been conceived.

My mother is half-black, and my father was white. I grew up in the most liberal city in the US, but as a girl, since I appeared more black than white, I still got far more abuse from the black kids in my school than from the white or Asian kids. The reality is that it’s difficult for half-black/half-white people; we’re marginalized by every ethnic group. That was true in the ’60s, when I was born, and it’s true (to a lesser extent) now. If my parents had thought seriously about that likelihood, they probably should’ve decided to not have children. But instead, they (apparently like you) thought they’d have children first and worry about how difficult their lives might be, later. Yes, it was easier for me, as I’m female; a half-black male does generally have a tougher lot. But not always.

You wrote “Our problem is that we don’t empathize with Black people.”

I wonder what the perception amongst black people would be if a black person posted “Our problem is that we don’t empathize with white people.” Can the responsibility for harmony between different groups ever be unilateral? Empathy must run both ways. Black people decry white people’s supposed lack of empathy for their struggles, but the reality is that white people today have dragged the pendulum back past plumb, and largely to their own detriment. The policies that this white-majority society have enacted to help blacks wasn’t largely the result of pressure brought by blacks; it was largely due to white-dominated courts; likewise, charitable efforts that have benefited blacks have largely been the result of generous whites. What do white Americans expect in return? Not much — personal responsibility, self-reliance, decent manners, and obedience to the rule of law. How much empathy does the black community have for white people who see society being negatively affected by the decisions and actions of black people? Where is the empathy there?

And as for this: “ When Philando Castile’s death showed up on Facebook while I was writing this, my wife and I cried together. We didn’t need more information. We didn’t need to see his criminal record. Because who we saw, his life bleeding out of him, was each of her brothers. Her dad. Our son. Our friends” — this is a dangerous notion, no matter how grounded in empathy it might be. You do “need more information”. You do need to acknowledge that context matters. Because some people just reflexively view such situations without that information and context, draw the wrong conclusions, and end up murdering others.