A conversation between an Ethiopian child and his parents, who adopted him when he was just 13 months old, after tragic death of Tamir Rice who was shot and killed in Cleveland.
By Nicholas Montemarano (Los Angeles Times) |
The conversation has been coming for years now. It has been coming since Tamir Rice, and before that, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and before that, Trayvon Martin, when our son was only 2. But he is almost 7 now, and my wife wanted to have the conversation long ago.
Not yet, I said; he’s only 4, he’s only 5, he’s only 6. Let him not know just a bit longer. But she is right: The time has come.
We adopted Dangiso when he was 13 months old and almost immediately we started to tell him his story. We explained that he was born in Ethiopia and that we are his family — his mother and father — but that he also has family there too, an Ethiopian father and nine siblings. It didn’t take long for him to ask my wife if he had been inside her belly. When she told Dangiso that he had not, he asked whose belly he had been inside.
“Your Ethiopian mama’s,” my wife said.
“Where is she?” Dangiso asked.
“She died,” my wife said.
Dangiso took in this information, and then he changed the subject. Not long after this, we told him he had had a twin sister who died as an infant. As much as we wanted to protect our son from painful truths, we knew he had to know.
Now there are more painful truths. Dangiso, a black boy with white parents, is growing up in a white neighborhood and attending a predominantly white private school in a country where blacks — especially young black men — are not safe. In other words, we must tell our son that he must follow a distinct set of rules, different from his parents, different from most of his friends.
We have already edged into it. After Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, was shot and killed while holding an Airsoft replica gun in Cleveland, we explained to Dangiso that he was to play with his Nerf gun only in our backyard, and that if his friends ever played with a toy gun that wasn’t bright blue and orange — marking it as an obvious toy — he was never to touch it.
Continue reading this story on The Commercial Appeal – Memphis
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