A Life That Matters

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My son Zane is black. His life matters.

I am a white gay man and so is my husband, Brian.

We will always question our cultural competence in raising a black son. Kwanzaa and Sidney Poitier films and rap music and "I Have a Dream" ringtones are not enough.

I grew up different from my parents, but because I grew up white, I will never understand growing up black.

But Zane was a difficult crack baby. There weren't any other foster parents, black/white, straight/gay, thin/thick who wanted him. The social worker said that he would probably end up in a group home. Brian and I take the long odds: babies with colostomies, and crippled dogs and unadoptable boys.


I did not choose to be white. I did not choose to be gay. But I did choose to be a father.

Zane earns an allowance. He can spend it how he wants. Last month, in Cliff's Hardware store, Zane saw an orange plastic Nerf gun. Despite my job as a deputy, I don't purchase toy guns for my sons. But this was his allowance.
On the drive back, we discussed Andy Lopez Cruz and Mario Woods.

We didn't check his backpack the next morning. Zane went to school, and during study hall, he pulled out the new toy and waved it around.

The white teacher freaked out. When she returned to work three days later, Zane was charged with terrorist threats and expelled from the school.

My teacher friends said, "It's sad, but it's what the district needed to do." My black friends said, "This is an overreaction." Zane is a black boy with learning challenges being raised by gays in the wild. His life matters.

One friend says that Black Lives Matter as a movement is wrong because all lives matter. Another friend tells me that Black Lives Matter is important because the system is rigged against young black males. I don't know who's right.

All I know is that when the teachers and coaches presume to judge my son that this much is true: Zane's life matters.
With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.

Kevin Fisher-Paulson is a captain with the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Department and manages its community programs.