There are times when I think I have a certain and final answer to the question. And it’s not what you think, I don’t think so.
However, the truth is, as I grow older, I realise I was never 100% sure. Or even half of the time.
I realise that culture and tradition are an important part of identity. I realise that race is an important marker of who we are. I realise that racism is not dead.
But now, not only am I unsure if it is is ever a problem if black boys (and girls) are raised by nonblack parents, I sometimes don’t even know what the nature of the problem is.
No, the main problematic is not one of culture or tradition. Not when they are raised from day 1 in a “white culture”, unless one thinks there is a correspondence between skin colour and culture. There isn’t.
Perhaps it is of race. But what about race is a problem in this case, if we are not racist ourselves?
Ultimately, then, any answer I offer is always provisional.
Having just returned from a trip in a friendly European country where I saw many white women pushing strollers with beautiful black Somali-looking children, I am now thinking, well, it’s even more complicated. ‘Friendly European country’ is important in the sentence above. So is ‘Somali-looking’. The two phrases define the context.
What this means is that the answer one gives to the question can only be contextual. Nothing is certain. Nothing is final.
That said, it would be great if every adult black men did his part in raising black boys to be good black men.
Even though I appreciate the provisional nature of answers to the question, as well as the contextual facts that determine why Somali children might have a better life in a friendly European country, what I do know is until we learn to be full present to each other, to be present in black boys lives, we cannot make claims on their identity and beloningness. If we are not there when they need us most, we can’t be surprised if black boys and young men don’t show love to us, can we. Yes, we can’t be all twitchy and start asking ‘what’s wrong with these young men’ if they kill, rape, hate, disrespect, can we?
So, I guess today’s answer is, if it is a problem when black boys are raised by white women and men, be a father, brother, grandfather, uncles, mentor, teacher, or coach then you won’t have the problem. Just be present. In the meantime, I hope Madonna is succeeding in raising well-adjusted and happy black children, I do.