What 'Today''s Craig Melvin Would Like White People to Stop Saying About His Kids

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As the non-blacks in this country grapple with the fact that we haven't done enough to combat racism, part of the conversation has turned to the less obvious ways in which people reveal their prejudices. Even people who don't consider themselves racist can say things that are downright hurtful. During the NBC news special "Growing Up Black: Families Against Racism" on Monday evening, Craig Melvin, Today's co-host, revealed a micro-aggression that really bothers him as a father.
"I am always impressed when someone, a stranger, says to me," Oh, your children are so well behaved, "said Melvin, who has two biracial children, Delano, 6, and Sybil, 3, with his wife, Fox Sports Anker Lindsay Czarniak. "And you know that they would probably not say that if there were two white children who are the same age. Didn't you expect my kids to behave well? "
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It's really like these observers compliment him for having children who don't like all other black children.
Two other parents on the series, Kimree and Jessica Gautier, said they heard the same thing when they went out with their two children, ages 9 and 7, in mostly white neighborhoods in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her white friends had never noticed that before.
"We'd go to a store like Target or a restaurant or something and we'll get this:" Oh my god, your kids are so good; They are so well spoken, "said Kimree." And I will say, "Well, they are not doing anything crazy, they are not out here like building a small model airplane in the middle of the store. They are not solving world peace in the middle of the store . They're just well-behaved children. "
"And I feel that much of it is because you don't expect black children to do this," he continued. "Because they get the stigma of being loud and ignorant and exaggerated and generally just bad."
This type of micro-aggression and the feeling of being unicorns all the time prompted the Gautiers to move to a racially mixed city. We understand it because it sounds stressful to feel constantly on guard and to know that other parents expect you to behave like a negative stereotype. They should be able to allow their black children to act like children.
So please, white readers: record this information and find that it's our problem, not your problem. This is not just about saying the right thing or being politically correct. It's about going deeper and facing your own prejudices long before you open your mouth.
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