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Trayvon Martin, U.S. Racism and Our Black Son

By E.J. Graff, Slate - July 28, 2013

We’re white. He’s African-American. In the past, when we’ve tried talking with him about what’s wrong with the N-word—a word so coolly slung in his favorite songs—he's told us that “no one cares” about that race stuff any more. He can think that because he's grown up in a Cambridge, Mass., bubble, where his family—two white women raising one brown boy—is boringly ordinary. He knows plenty of other brown and black kids—on our block, in his school, on his sports teams—with at least one white parent, whether by birth, remarriage, or adoption; often enough the parents are two women or two men. In his daily life, “all that race stuff” can easily seem like ancient history. But he's stopped saying that since he watched 42, and heard the N-word used in its native habitat, flecked with the spittle of hate and contempt. It was painful. But it gave us the opening we needed to talk seriously about race, including the gut-wrenching Zimmerman verdict. He hadn’t known about the trial—Whitey Bulger, Aaron Hernandez, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have dominated the crime news up here in Boston recently—but we had to find a way to tell him. Because although he doesn’t know it yet, it was a trial about him.

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