By Charles Washington
A brave new world. America made great again – not so much last night. What’s going on in America made its way to my neighborhood, my home, down my driveway, past the protection of my front door and settled in the consciousness of my son’s world for what I fear will be a lifetime.
As Austin and I watched the nightly news, we had a dialogue that billions of fathers and sons will never have to have in any other country in the world.
And no, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees, sex, STDs or drugs.
Let that sink in.
The conversation between me and my son, the questions he asked left me feeling more than a little ashamed, angry, helpless and set apart as it relates to my home, the place I love so much – the United States of America.
It all began when he asked me what he should do if a guy with a gun started shooting while he was in Walmart, or while he was at school? He asks me if I thought he’d get shot, if he got shoot would it hurt, would he die, would the shooter target him because of his skin color?
He asked why does the president hate Mexicans, black people and why don’t the folks who support him ask him to stop being so angry and mean? He ask me if I’d ever been called a nigger and shared with me that a lot of his friends secretly dislike Donald Trump and hate that their parents support him and that they believe Trump is a racist and often apologize to him about the stuff their parents and Trumps says.
At some point during all of this, I realized this conversation was more difficult, painful, important than the one I had with him and all of my son about black kids and the police.
Funny thing is, we never talked about video games or mental illness. Never talked about guns or background checks.
We talked about him, his father, his friends, their parents, Donald Trump and hatred of people of color; Latinos, white people, being proud of your culture, fears real and perceived, faith, compassion, and death.
When we were done for the night, I apologized to my son for what a terrible job we adults have done in America to figure the hard stuff out, protect them, be good role models in both words and deeds.
While I haven’t completely wrapped my head around what last night meant, what it all means today for my son’s future, this country’s future, I know unless we do better, it ain’t good.
One thing I do know is that a bunch of folks has gotten all of us to this disturbing place that endangers our children’s lives and this country on purpose.
And we better figure who they are, why they are doing it ASAP because this is not the America of my dreams, not the America I hoped to leave for my children, not the America our founding fathers left a blueprint for.
So I’m gonna do better, get off my sofa, off my porch, work harder, figure things out, figure out the best way not the easiest way so that Austin, his friends won’t have to have the same talk – apologies to their kids.
Charles Washington is an Oak Ridge native who is a Knoxville resident and business owner. He can be reached on Facebook, from where this post was taken.