I came across this excellent piece of MLK Day reading this morning by a guest writer on Ta-Nahisi Coate's blog:
Of course, I think it's important that she know this history. I think it's absolutely crucial that, at some point, she understand how race works in America, not the least of which is because she'll inevitably learn it the hard way (and I suppose it says a lot about how sheltered a life she's had thus far that she hasn't been confronted with it)[3]. Most importantly, I want to raise her with an investment in social justice and that means she's going to have to intimately understand the history and function of race and racial inequality.

I just hoped this would all come "later."
I have thought a lot about Owen's future as a mixed-race kid, particularly because he'll likely be attending public (read: colored) school. But I haven't yet had a conversation about race with him. I guess, like the TNC guest blogger, I've been hoping this will be something we talk about later.

I think I'm enjoying Owen's current state of innocence about race. One day he was talking about one of his friends from school. I asked which friend he was talking about and, not thinking, I asked, "Is he black?" Owen said, "No! He's not black! He's brown, like Papa."

Duh!

It's really too bad that I can't preserve for Owen the notion that people just come in a continuum of shades, ranging from "kinda pinkish yellowish brown," as Owen describes his grandmothers' skin, up to dark brown like his grandfather. He'll eventually have to learn the "adult" notion that there are "clear" borders that make this guy black:

and this guy equally black:

Now, is that clear, son?

blissful_e said…
Thankfully, this is one of those things that's not as difficult outside of America.

When I was a kid, I was taught "black" and "white" but as an adult it's quite obviously a beautiful colour spectrum (and oh how I wish I had a perpetual tan and lower risk of skin cancer like many of my friends...).
Code name: 1% said…
You've shared this guy's blog before - I like his writing. My family was always in the weird situation of trying to explain this all to my sister while simultaneously having no first-hand knowledge of what it's like to be on the "more tan" end of the spectrum. The first time she came home crying from school after being teased for having a white family, I cried, too. But I guess the kids got used to it after a while. I say the more mixed-race families, the better!
Leah Bennett said…
Ha Ha! So true... I remember being against the use of "black" when I was little as well. I always wanted people to say brown. Seemed (seems) obviously like the appropriate color!! :)

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…