Monday, July 23, 2007
My 12 year old son is a Harry Potter maniac – and has been from the start. I have always looked upon this as a sign of his healthy development, but his fascination takes on even greater significance as we consider the disparities between black and white and how they are reinforced. We have encouraged him to have heroes of all types, especially color. To do anything else would be to limit the dream engine powering him towards all that he can do and be in life.
However, my son is not like most black boys. He is so fearless of the accusation of ‘acting white’ that he would gladly stand in a line for hours to buy the latest Potter book, movie ticket, or a high-tech wizard’s wand. Less we worry, he is truly agnostic, having pursued Star Wars, and Jedi Samuel Jackson’s Mace Wendu costume, with a vengeance. A white kid in his school pointed out on Halloween that Harry Potter was white, to which my son replied, ‘so’.
We are bombarded daily, including this blog, with the differences between black academic achievement and the rest of America. Black males graduate at less than 70% the rate of whites for a myriad of reasons, including the notion that boyhood emulation of non-black heroes, athletic or academic, is somehow not right for black kids. Well this is definitely a position to re-consider. The boy doesn’t want to be white, he just wants to turn his sister into a hamster, for heaven’s sake!
It is great that millions of white kids wanted to be like Michael Jordan, and it is perfectly okay for black boys to believe in Santa Claus and want to be like Harry Potter. Tragic is the only word that comes to mind when I think of a kid with no dreams because none seem to fit the color of his or her skin.
James C. Collier
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