Parents (USA)

Proud of His Pride

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Barbara Brandon-croft marvels at her son’s lifelong love for Blackness.

I’VE ALWAYS relished my duty-bound task to nurture in my only child the pride, the joy—and, solemnly, the reality—of being Black. Chase grew up knowing and singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem, which seamlessly followed the Pledge of Allegiance as part of his largely Black preschool’s daily routine. (Honestly, I don’t think he could say the pledge today without immediatel­y launching into the hymn.) When he later attended a predominat­ely white school, he never forgot who he was or where he’d come from. Once, during pickup time, a mom excitedly came up to me and said, “That Chase is a real talent.” He showed me the certificat­e he’d gotten that day. “Wow!” I said, “You won the dance contest!” He said to me, comically deadpan, “Yeah, at this school.” Ha!

So many times like this he’s made my heart swell with Black joy. Once, back in his preschool days, he sighed and said, “I wish I was dark like everyone else.” Such sweet words coming from my melanin-challenged boy. Or a few years later, when he expressed his utter exasperati­on that not one of his fellow first-graders knew who Stevie Wonder was. Chase simply couldn’t believe it. After all, this was the kid who, as we listened to the soul radio station in the car, once called out from his booster seat, “Is that Prince?” My husband and I were stunned. “Good guess!” we said. “That’s Morris Day and The Time—prince wrote and played on this song.” (How many little ones can discern the Minneapoli­s sound?!) Now that Chase is in his senior year at New York University, he’s earning his degree in Black culture, Black art, and Black performanc­e. I know he feels the joy of who we are. And I’ll say it loud: I could not be more proud.

Barbara Brandon-croft is the research director at Parents.

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