This week Jaxon Rosebush and Reddy Walden made headlines for their matching haircuts. Jaxon, a four-year-old child of the majority, told his mother that he wanted to get a haircut like his friend Reddy Walden so that they could “trick their teacher.” If this does not sound remarkable to you, this is because it isn’t. The story made headlines because the boy whom Jaxon wanted to look identical to is black. Jaxson’s mother found humor in Jaxson’s oblivion to Reddy’s skin color. She even mentioned that when Jaxson spoke of Reddy, he “never even mentions it.” This story proved viral in suggesting Jaxson and Reddy’s “trick” illustrates a colorblind perspective that adults should adopt as a collective ideology. This disturbed me for the following reasons.
- It ignores the elephant in the room
The post celebrates Jaxon, a white child who saw his hair as the only difference between himself and his friend Reddy. However, the elephant in the room is that it is not Jaxson who does not see color, it’s Reddy. Reddy, an African child adopted by American white parents and a white best friend most likely views himself as white. Reddy personifies a contemporary manifestation of the slave trade where African bodies, abducted by western settlers and given western names, language, and culture, endure a process where they never quite become American but become irreversibly severed from Africa. Thus, while their friendship proves revolutionary to some, a closer glance reveals that Reddy conceptualizes himself as a part of his oppressive group—a perception that will soon betray a crushing reality.
White parents who adopt black children, be it Madonna, Angelina Jolie or “regular” couples like the Walden family, use their black children to evoke the white savior image—-suggesting that interracial adoption affords the western world a step towards colorblindness. However, teaching a black child that their color does not matter casts them into a state of invisibility that obliterates their self-esteem and identity.
Given that all parents in the viral segment are white, this story also serves as propaganda to depict black parents, or the black collective, as the catalyst in racial tension. Thus, the presented story suggests it is white parents that enable both white and black children to engage harmoniously, a claim that validates interracial adoption and white systemic control. Additionally, this claim conveniently ignores that it whites who offset the demonized conceptualizing of color. It is whites who used color as the basis to invent their own superiority and ingrain an inferiority that both pollutes the black mind and provides a platform for western ideology.
2. White idolizing and imitating black style is nothing new
Jaxon garners praise for doing what Mark Stebbins, Rachel Dolezal, Elvis Presley Eminem, Vanilla Ice, Coco, Kim Kardashian, Iggy Azalea, and Robin Thicke do to earn a living. From music, style, and speech, whites have continually copied blacks as a way to appear edgy and different. Blacks may have had their ingenious culture seized centuries ago, but the black collective remains innovative in continually adding flavor to western culture. A flavor consistently diluted and appropriated by white culture for entertainment purposes. Thus, Jaxson is not doing anything different than what those of the white collective have done for years. Jaxson’s deeds illustrate the racial envy that western culture consistently overlooks to enforce a fictive white superiority. I say fictive because western culture seduces the black collective to emulate a group that does not even truly want to be like themselves.
It is also worth mentioning that appropriation is not appreciation. Whether it is wearing cornrows, African garb, or adopting vernacular speech popularized by the black collective, white appropriation of black culture has never symbolized appreciation or even understanding. Cornrows and locs receive consistent exposure in twenty-first century America as tokens of an “urban” identity, not as an homage to displaying and maintaining black hair health and versatility.
3. The story proves counterproductive to its surface motives
The story appears to declare a colorblind initiative, yet cites color as the platform to which it conveys its argument. This dichotomy illustrates color as an underlying agent to all discussions about white and black relations. Thus, while the media overtly says that these children display an ideology that all people should adopt, if we did adopt this ideology then their behavior would not be remarkable—it would be normative. Furthermore, this story functions to illustrate the white racist as innately colorblind yet proves counterproductive in implementing a color-struck gaze.
4. A Color-Struck Gaze
Perhaps this story disturbed me because I have personally experienced a color struck gaze as a child by other white children. Before I share my story, please allow me to say that I did not engage with white children or white people for the majority of my childhood. I had a few white teachers and could count on my hands the white children I knew and interacted with as a child. Yet, when my teacher took us to The Metropolitan Museum of Art I did not stop and stare at the white children who were also on their school trip. In fact, I only noticed them when they stopped and stared at me and my black classmates with gaping mouths and wide eyes. I remember waving to these amazed and scared children, but not one waved back. My teacher, a young white man, commended my actions but did nothing to confront what these young white children did to us on that sunny day in Manhattan. His remarks implied that it was our social responsibility to ease tense situation where our “differences” would disrupt the natural order of events.
As an adult, I see my instructor’s comments as synonymous to former Mayor Rudolph Guiliani’s remark that black parents should instruct their children on how “to respect the police.” I would see similar gazes on white children as an adult, except these gazes were at the San Diego Zoo and the kids were looking at monkeys. I will say that the gazes directed at the monkeys were far more favorable.
Similarly, in Tthe Souls of Black Folks, W.E.B. Dubois recalls learning of his color when a white classmate refused to share with him because he was black. Countless other blacks have testified to being poked and prodded by white children who would not keep their hands out of their hair, or who like Dubois experienced a moment where their blackness served as the line of demarcation between equal and base treatment.
Now to those who reference these examples as reflecting the past, I would like to reference the recent incident where white supremacists disrupted a black child’s birthday party with racial epithets, Confederate flag battles, and armed threats. Also, with the overwhelming amount of black children in Special Education classes, labeled as ADD, or generally projected as inferior in every area except sports and the arts, ideas of black inferiority begins in the dehumanized treatment displaced onto black children. In order for racism to play the role that it does in past and present western culture, it must begin when humans are at their most innocent and naive state.
Furthermore, this one-dimensional new story functions solely to further myths of white superiority at the expense of the black collective. This story seduces the western world into a collective amnesia that prompts most to overlook this story as damage control for an evilness that continues to dominate western society.
Thus, for any black person to share this post, illustrates the black need for a white savior– adopting the possibility that whites will ever willingly eliminate a system that affords them benefits, privilege and a fictive superiority. Stories like these function to suggest that freedom is free. However, freedom is not given, it’s taken.
While this story may seem like a means to revist the bliss of childhood, contemporary illustrations like these function to thwart blacks from seizing equity and justice. Instead, the westwern world prompts blacks to wait, knowing that the process of waiting will weather the black body with the ways of white supremacy therefore decreasing black action. As George L. Jsckson once said,
“I’ve been patient, but where I’m concerned patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.”
This story, like countless other commerials, television shows, movies, articles, books and advertisements fucntion to reduce blacks into cowards whose backs become a step-stool for white privelage and opportunity.