The Inheritance of Disaffection
“Daddy, are you happy?” This is a question my son asks me on a regular basis. It is a beautiful yet sad question. It is beautiful because it is proof that my state of being registers with him, and that fact is the basis of essential virtues like sympathy, friendship and love. It is sad because often I am not happy and my son sees it just like I saw it on my own father’s face with troubling regularity.
For America’s black and brown citizens, holding on to the hope of a bright future requires an act of imagination.
My father used to tell me stories of being chased by older white kids through the streets of Brooklyn and how only his older brother, who was the leader of a substantial street gang, could hold back the tide of racist violence that frequently erupted there. He told me that he and his family lived in decent apartments because his Puerto Rican father, who had much more French in his blood than African, would be hired for superintendent jobs because employers believed he was white. Later, the employers would be flummoxed when my dark-skinned grandmother would arrive with five burnt caramel children in tow. Read more here.