Living without the “white gaze”

November 23, 2015

My parents never told me I had to “work twice as hard as white people to be half as successful” and I’m glad they didn’t. We grew up in a black working class neighborhood yet my siblings and I have gone all around the world and back not because we had a ton of money rather because our parents never said we couldn’t. They didn’t make our blackness or our working class background or our faith a limit. They didn’t push us away from our dreams nor tell us to be practical.

“Do something you enjoy and make money” that was their most straightforward advice. But their love and there willingness to dream with us, support us with kindness and finance our dreams when possible. Not because they were or are wealthy but because they believed in our ability. Racism is a real societal reality but do your children a favor and raise them without privileging the “white gaze” as Toni Morrison so brilliantly put it. Support your children’s dreams in preference for practicality. Give them balance but support them in every way possible. People have sometimes asked me how my sisters and I are so “successful” and I can say my parents supporting even our most impractical dreams is a huge part of it. And which of the blessing of your Lord would you deny?

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