Two mixed-race boys, one lighter skinned than the other. Did I make a mistake telling them they were the same?

By , Salon.com

A photo of the author's sons: Brennan, left, and Colin.

A photo of the author’s sons: Brennan, left, and Colin.

One Saturday night in St. Louis about decade ago my younger son, then a teen, was driving around town with two white friends. I’m black and my husband is white, so our two sons are biracial. This particular son has his father’s straight hair and aquiline nose. His skin is brown like mine.

The friend in the back seat behind my son stuck a paint pellet gun out the back window and shot a stop sign…

As a young family, we usually didn’t talk about race or even acknowledge it, because at the time we didn’t see the need. Then one night at the dinner table I got my first reality check when our younger boy, who was 7 at the time, said, “Dad, I want white skin and braces. And a new first name, like Michael.”…

While raising my boys, I often wondered: Should I have “the talk” with them about being black? The decision was complicated by our older son’s appearance. With his curly hair and rounded nose, he has always looked more like me than his dad, but unlike his brother, his skin appears completely white. This detail had always made “the talk” seem absurd. Should I poison the well of innocence by telling his brother that he was different?…

In bi- and multi-racial families, children's skin color and facial features are expressed in ways that complicate our expectations of "white" and "black." Because these classifications historically carry importance social weight, is it possible for these children to live "race neutral"?

In bi- and multi-racial families, children’s skin color and facial features are expressed in ways that complicate our expectations of “white” and “black.” Because these classifications historically carry importance social weight, is it really possible for these children to live “race neutral”?

Then came the phone call about the paint pellet incident. My husband went to the station and handled everything. About 10 days later, we all appeared in juvenile court to learn what the punishment would be. The white kid with the gun was most culpable and had a later court date, but they all got into trouble.

While my husband and one of the other fathers talked to the lawyer, a different policeman said to my son and me, “If I saw one of these paint pellet guns sticking out a car window, you don’t know how close I’d be to shooting you.”

Editor’s Note: What would you do as the parent of these boys?

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.