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  • Growing up, I didn't always understand

  • why my parents made me follow the rules that they did.

  • Like, why did I really have to mow the lawn?

  • Why was homework really that important?

  • Why couldn't I put jelly beans in my oatmeal?

  • My childhood was abound with questions like this.

  • Normal things about being a kid and realizing that sometimes,

  • it was best to listen to my parents even when I didn't exactly understand why.

  • And it's not that they didn't want me to think critically.

  • Their parenting always sought to reconcile the tension

  • between having my siblings and I understand the realities of the world,

  • while ensuring that we never accepted the status quo as inevitable.

  • I came to realize that this, in and of itself,

  • was a very purposeful form of education.

  • One of my favorite educators, Brazilian author and scholar Paulo Freire,

  • speaks quite explicitly about the need for education

  • to be used as a tool for critical awakening and shared humanity.

  • In his most famous book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed,"

  • he states, "No one can be authentically human

  • while he prevents others from being so."

  • I've been thinking a lot about this lately, this idea of humanity,

  • and specifically, who in this world is afforded the privilege

  • of being perceived as fully human.

  • Over the course of the past several months,

  • the world has watched as unarmed black men, and women,

  • have had their lives taken at the hands of police and vigilante.

  • These events and all that has transpired after them

  • have brought me back to my own childhood

  • and the decisions that my parents made about raising a black boy in America

  • that growing up, I didn't always understand in the way that I do now.

  • I think of how hard it must have been, how profoundly unfair it must have felt

  • for them to feel like they had to strip away parts of my childhood

  • just so that I could come home at night.

  • For example, I think of how one night,

  • when I was around 12 years old, on an overnight field trip to another city,

  • my friends and I bought Super Soakers

  • and turned the hotel parking lot into our own water-filled battle zone.

  • We hid behind cars,

  • running through the darkness that lay between the streetlights,

  • boundless laughter ubiquitous across the pavement.

  • But within 10 minutes,

  • my father came outside, grabbed me by my forearm

  • and led me into our room with an unfamiliar grip.

  • Before I could say anything,

  • tell him how foolish he had made me look in front of my friends,

  • he derided me for being so naive.

  • Looked me in the eye, fear consuming his face,

  • and said, "Son, I'm sorry,

  • but you can't act the same as your white friends.

  • You can't pretend to shoot guns.

  • You can't run around in the dark.

  • You can't hide behind anything other than your own teeth."

  • I know now how scared he must have been,

  • how easily I could have fallen into the empty of the night,

  • that some man would mistake this water

  • for a good reason to wash all of this away.

  • These are the sorts of messages I've been inundated with my entire life:

  • Always keep your hands where they can see them, don't move too quickly,

  • take off your hood when the sun goes down.

  • My parents raised me and my siblings in an armor of advice,

  • an ocean of alarm bells so someone wouldn't steal the breath from our lungs,

  • so that they wouldn't make a memory of this skin.

  • So that we could be kids, not casket or concrete.

  • And it's not because they thought it would make us better than anyone else

  • it's simply because they wanted to keep us alive.

  • All of my black friends were raised with the same message,

  • the talk, given to us when we became old enough

  • to be mistaken for a nail ready to be hammered to the ground,

  • when people made our melanin synonymous with something to be feared.

  • But what does it do to a child

  • to grow up knowing that you cannot simply be a child?

  • That the whims of adolescence are too dangerous for your breath,

  • that you cannot simply be curious,

  • that you are not afforded the luxury of making a mistake,

  • that someone's implicit bias

  • might be the reason you don't wake up in the morning.

  • But this cannot be what defines us.

  • Because we have parents who raised us to understand

  • that our bodies weren't meant for the backside of a bullet,

  • but for flying kites and jumping rope, and laughing until our stomachs burst.

  • We had teachers who taught us how to raise our hands in class,

  • and not just to signal surrender,

  • and that the only thing we should give up

  • is the idea that we aren't worthy of this world.

  • So when we say that black lives matter, it's not because others don't,

  • it's simply because we must affirm that we are worthy of existing without fear,

  • when so many things tell us we are not.

  • I want to live in a world where my son

  • will not be presumed guilty the moment he is born,

  • where a toy in his hand isn't mistaken for anything other than a toy.

  • And I refuse to accept that we can't build this world into something new,

  • some place where a child's name

  • doesn't have to be written on a t-shirt, or a tombstone,

  • where the value of someone's life

  • isn't determined by anything other than the fact that they had lungs,

  • a place where every single one of us can breathe.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Growing up, I didn't always understand

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B1 US TED black afforded childhood understand raised

【TED】Clint Smith: How to raise a black son in America (How to raise a black son in America | Clint Smith)

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    CUChou posted on 2015/05/12
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