What Do You See?

There he stood looking in the mirror, admiring his new hoodie. Sweatpants and hoodies, that’s all he wants to wear these days. After mornings of going back and forth about his outfit choices, I caved and bought him two new hoodies to add to the rotation.

He lifted the hood and covered his unkempt brown, curly hair. His face, still tired from the early morning wake up, looked so stern.

Fear instantly gripped my heart. My mind went somewhere it’s never gone before. The image of my five year old son standing in his own bathroom, with his hood on caused such intense feelings. I instantly wanted to tell him to take his hood off, but I refrained.

As if he could read my thoughts he said, “Remember when white people thought they were better than brown people?” “Yea,” I said and I nodded. He continued, “It’s not like that anymore though.”

I gave the response I deemed suitable for a five year old. “Well, it’s not exactly like it used to be, but that still happens today.”

The conversation shifted and we proceeded with our morning routine, but I couldn’t shake what I had felt. A hoodie. A simple article of clothing changed the way I saw my sweet boy.

What do you see? Right now you might see what I see. A young boy who just happens to like comfortable clothing. An innocent face, trying to keep his head warm.

Will that always be the case? Will other people always see what I see? Will he always be the innocent kid just trying to stay warm? Will his light skin and green eyes protect him?

Today, as I reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, I’m an conscious of where we’ve come from and how far we have to go. I’m also hopeful that as we acknowledge the past, build relationships across racial and cultural lines, tell our stories, share our struggles, and lament together, the world will be a better place for my children, their children, and the generations to come.

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