This was a very good read. Thankfully I grew up exposed to Black culture and my middle and high schools consisted of lower middle class Blacks. I’m so thankful having grown up in that environment because it gave me the energy and enthusiasm to fight racism. I’m also thankful my parents taught me code switching rather than immersing in White Supremacy and colonialism. I fit in when I need to everywhere I go, but I have a home. My partner’s kids are having the experience you did and I can see the look of disgust on their faces when they have to leave their White comfort zones. They have White friends, but they never come over. They always meet up at some place where you gotta spend money. I could go on and on all day about my observations but the two things I feel watching them despise their Blackness are sorrow and anger.
I feel anger because their parents (mom/Black, dad/Haitian immigrant) thought being immersed in Whiteness and appealing to White gazes by making tokens out of their kids would make their lives better. It’s made their lives harder because they are not equipped to deal with racism, not even among their peers today at school. Most importantly, no one at school cares because they all are White. The visual disgusts me.
I feel sorrow because like you I know they are never really going to fit in. They will be accepted, but if they decide to continue on in their assimilating journeys, they’ll miss out on experiences/culture they’ll never have a chance to love and understand. The centering of Whiteness wins again. Your piece has given me a lot to talk to my partner about. Thsse kids are in no way equipped to deal with the Jim Crow South, and they are going to have a lot of bad days because they don’t have the strong Black network of friends and family who mot only understand, but who can offer wisdom and encouragement.
America has really done a number on folks/immigrants with the American dream propaganda. By the time we figure out it’s a lie you’ve spent a quarter of your life chasing it.