I’m a mom of two young, adult sons. And my husband and I have done our level best to raise them to be productive men. It’s important to us that they love God, find a legal way to become financially independent of us, and lead productive lives.
All that to say that as a mom, like any mom, I have hopes and dreams for my sons. In fact, over the years, some of my white friends and I have talked together about our sons and daughters and those hopes and dreams for their lives. And we talked about worries too.
Will they make friends in high school? Will they score well on the state standardized test? Will they get into college? What about the son who dropped out of college? What will their careers be like? Are they maturing at an acceptable pace? All the normal, natural worries that loving parents go through.
But that’s as far as the conversation goes with my white friends. Because to finish the conversation, I have to turn back to my black friends. Because they are in the same boat I am. They too pay the Black Parent Tax.
That’s the burdensome tax we pay to raise our kids to adulthood safely. That tax represents the extra worries that we have that white parents don’t have. And if you have a black son, then you know what I’m talking about.
Because raising black boys into well-adjusted, productive young men who live to a ripe old age is not for the faint of heart given the active resistance working against us and the narrative that society will try to engraft into their psyche about black people and especially black men.
Like when you have to worry about whether a white teacher will stereotype him and he’ll be “labeled” in school and given less attention and fewer, if any, high performance expectations than Little Billy receives (Note: On this blog, “Little Billy” always represents little white boys). Or whether the police will pull him over again tonight for DWB (Driving While Black)? Only this time, they won’t just harass him and let him go…usually without a ticket. This time might be THE time…that the police officer decides he doesn’t like his attitude, or his dreads, or his tattoos or that he’s driving a nice car or whatever. And things go quickly south, spiraling out of control until my son is dead on the hard, cold concrete. Or arrested on some bogus, trumped up, over-charged…ish, knowing that black men are multiple times more likely to be arrested and multiple, multiple times more likely to be convicted than Little Billy for just about anything.
Oh. Sorry. I got caught up in the authenticity of my fears.
The point is that white parents have the luxury of the joys and pains of regular parenting. Black parents have that too. And THEN we pay the Black Parent Tax. And there’s no sense trying to escape that tax. Because if you cheat on that tax, then society will be on your sons like the IRS on a fishy deduction. And as with the IRS, it’s hard to beat that system.
So we willingly pay the BPT. Willingly. Because the alternative is even more burdensome. For parents who refuse to pay the BPT (and occasionally even for those who pay it…just because it can…), the system has non-payment penalties. They are called the Prison Industrial Complex and the County Morgue. Either way, there’s a cold, hard, concrete or metal slab for your son, just waiting for you to miss a BPT installment payment.