All parents want to protect their children, but for Dr. Marcelle Taylor Dougan, protecting them from racism is a challenge.
Three times last month, my Black sons, aged 13 and 12, heard other children their age using the “n” word, at school and at soccer, two places they should feel safest. As my husband and I, who are also Black, helped them navigate the shame and hurt they felt, I wondered what else we could have done to prepare them for this.
Five years ago, driving north on 280 , we came upon an obstruction marked by orange cones. My husband was driving, changed lanes and apparently cut off a white man. He was so angry. After we cleared the obstruction, he got in front of us, slamming his breaks. Eventually he moved his Jeep Wrangler next to us, gave us the finger, and called out the “n” word, making what I later realized were monkey gestures. My kids, 8 and 7 at the time, were in the back seat, horrified.
“What did he say? Did he say ‘cheater’?”
In that moment, I wasn’t prepared to teach them what the “n” word meant, so I said yes, he did.