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Friday, November 30, 2018

This isn't on Jezebel, but it could be - What I Told My White Son He Could Learn From His Black Bully

"It was a Tuesday afternoon like any other when I picked Jamie up from school. He slunk sheepishly into the passenger seat and dropped his bag on the floor. "How was yoru day?" I asked buoyantly. A reticent "Don't wanna talk about it..." was his reply. After a brief moment of concerned pause, I drove off.

Around half of the way home, Jamie started to whimper. I glanced over to see a contorted expression on his face, and in moments he erupted into tears. "I was bullied again," was all he could muster through plaintive sobs.

Some weeks prior, Jamie had confided to me that another child at his school had been targeting him. Jamie, my son, is an 8-year-old white boy. His bully, so he described, was a young black child of 8 or 9. For the sake of privacy, I'll refer to him as Kyle.

I pulled the car over to a residential curbside and cut the engine. Jamie was still weeping uncontrollably. As a mother, my nature impulse was of course to comfort him. But as a committed ally of people of color, and a woman firmly devoted to the dismantling of all forms of cultural and institutional class oppression, I knew I had to take a different approach. I collected my thoughts and began.

"Jamie, do you understand what it means for you to be a white boy, and for Kyle to be a black boy??" I offered gently. Jamie rubbed his eyes and shook his head. I continued, "It means that there exists something called a systemic power differential between you and Kyle. As a person of color, Kyle can't do or enjoy the same things as we can, honey. Kyle isn't bullying you, but is instead expressing his voice as a victim of systemic oppression." I rubbed his back as he kneeled over, head in his hands.

We proceeded home and walked into the house. My boyfriend, Charles, was already home cooking dinner for us. Jamie ran up to his room and shut the door without a word. Charles asked if Jamie was okay. "Just a little temper tantrum. Schoolyard woes," I responded. He gave me a peck on the cheek.

Jamie was still sullen when he joined us at the dinner table that evening. Charles and I shot each other..."
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