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‘Am I a Racist?’: I’m Scared To Death About Letting My 14-Year-Old Son Go to Six Flags with His White Friends As the Only Black Person

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We’re heading into the summer, and my eighth grader is ready to take a break from his studies and hit the streets with his friends! Last night he asked, “Mom, can I go to Six Flags with my friends?” My son usually gets a “yes” from us for most of his outings once we get some basics out of the way, especially for things we know he really enjoys like the movies and Six Flags. Left to his own devices, it is the one place on Earth where he would spend all of his free time if we let him.

But a yes doesn’t always come easy when we consider who he’s going out with and where. He’s a dark-skinned 14-year-old who stands at nearly 6 feet tall (he checks every week) and weighs 170 pounds. He’s as playful and gregarious as ever with little sense of danger.

A cheerful teenage boy wears wireless headphones around his neck and smiles as he walks to school on his first day. There is a teacher and younger students walking behind him. (Credit: Getty Images)

I began doing my usual rundown of questions such as “Who will be there?” “What time does the event start and end?” “How are you getting there?” and “How much will it cost?” If I’m not familiar with these friends (I’m usually the mom who knows the moms of my son’s closest friends), I probe deeper to better understand the relationship: “How close are you and these ‘friends’ of yours?”

How to Ask Your Child the Uncomfortable Questions About Race

The friend turned out to be a classmate from his honors science class. And she’s also inviting more friends to this outing. My son’s science class has one other Black student who happens to be female as well. Now, I must ask the quiet part out loud: “Is she white?” Without hesitation, he nonchalantly informed me that his friend was white and that she was inviting even more of her white friends to join them. Normally, our answer would be ‘yes’ once the responses to the basic lead-in questions were satisfied, but now I’m stuck with coming up with a reason to tell him “no.”

I’m the parent that only allows sleepovers at our home; my son has never spent the night at a friend’s home. But they’re welcome at our house. I even make them pancakes in the morning!

So imagine how paranoid I am about him visiting a theme park with hundreds of other people — mostly white people — and some sort of incident happens where he’s vulnerable with no allies. I’m all too aware of Black people getting too familiar with their white peers and ending up dead, harassed and/or bullied. Sure, having only Black friends doesn’t exempt him from that outcome, but it’s far easier to deal with and address for us as a family.

Multi-ethnic group of teenagers take a selfie together before school. They are outdoors on the high school campus. (Credit: Getty Images)

At this point, I’m racking my brain for a solution and need to buy myself some time. I told him I would get back to him after speaking with his father. Later that evening, I presented him with an offer that he was likely going to refuse. The only way he was going to be able to go on the outing is if one of his Black friends went too.

Does Giving Your Child an Ultimatum Help Them Understand the Lesson?

We would pay for her ticket, pick her up and drop them both off, so I could get a quick peek and wave at his group of friends. My son was more than opposed to the idea because his Black friend is from another school and isn’t friends with his white peers. After some back and forth of me explaining my rationale where I may have said a thing or two against white people, he walked away from the conversation mumbling “that’s so racist” under his breath while looking and feeling dejected and disappointed. Needless to say, he didn’t like the ultimatum he was given.

Somehow, I need to get my 14-year-old to understand that his father and I must be vigilant when it comes to his safety and well-being. As his parents, we must consider factors that may seem frivolous to him, but that could make the difference between life and death in an unexpected twist of events. He literally has a target on his back based on his size, skin color and gender. It’s not that we are walking around with a sense of impending doom, however, we do want to be careful and not set our son up for a situation that could go left quickly.

Should my son think I’m a racist because I don’t want him hanging out with his white friends solo? How can I achieve the goal of looking out for my son’s safety without coming off as though I’m discriminating?

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NOTE: This story has been edited for clarity and grammar.

What people are saying

13 thoughts on “‘Am I a Racist?’: I’m Scared To Death About Letting My 14-Year-Old Son Go to Six Flags with His White Friends As the Only Black Person

  1. reggie says:

    Not racist. Prudent!

  2. Ray says:

    You may need to provide him with more historical and present day context to help him understand your valid concerns. It’s unfair and unfortunate that Black children are not always seen as children by non-Black people. It forces Black parents to disrupt the child’s innocent perspective in order to protect them from others who fail to see them as innocent children. Also, you may just need to go with him and be a chaperone for situations like this. He’ll probably hate it, but in time, he’ll come to appreciate and understand how lucky he is to have parents who care and protect him.

  3. Demtri says:

    Well let’s be honest here, you are discriminating. So now that we got that out the way let’s break this all down.

    1) As a young black man ANYTHING can happen to him anywhere he goes, NOT just Six Flags. BUT the same thing can be said about anyone/color/race. It’s just the unpredictability of today.

    2) Getting to know his peers is a standard form of parenting, however FORCING your fears onto your kids is NOT ok. If all the friends were BLACK would you automatically have said yes? Would you be scared x the amount of his black friends that would be going Six Flags also?

    3) Wanting his other black friend to go – so making or putting his other friends in an uncomfortable position where they are meeting and interacting with someone they don’t know in such a big setting for YOU to be ok acceptable?

    4) At the end of the day your son was asking your permission to go out with his friends, the last thing they are thinking about is what would happen to who based on their race/gender/color. There comes a point where we have to let kids be kids and it doesn’t always have to be a race agenda. The world needs healing and sometime, just sometimes we have to try something different to make a change.

  4. Keke says:

    Just being honest in my opinion I would have been iffy about the situation myself if it would have been my child also that’s just a mother’s nature is to look after that child at all expense.. now that does not make me racist in any form or fashion I’m one of those people that I don’t see color I see a person.. I have had relationships with other people that are a different race and I have 2 of the most beautiful nieces that I could ever ask for and I was raised for the last few years of my teenage years by one of the sweetest lady’s the lord put on this earth named Mrs Mary and yes she was a black lady who was raising her 9 grandchildren due to the death of their mother.. If you haven’t figured it out yet I’m white and she never put one bit of difference between the way she treated or loved any of us I was one of her kids and she loved me just the same.. yet she would always tell me to be careful and make sure that I watched those around us and where we were bc me being the only white child in that area or crowd it could put me at a higher risk of getting hurt or harassed by others and she was absolutely right.. it’s not being racist it’s being realistic with the world the way it is today there are some truly some evil people in this world and they don’t care about nothing but them selves

  5. Bill Blow says:

    You have all the right in the world mom to be concerned about your son hanging out with all white people…bc there’s plenty of videos out here showing black people who were with white friends and were attacked by some of their white friends who happened to be around…beating…tortured…joked and in some cases murdered well those some white friends stood around and did nothing nor told the truth about it…so yeah mom you keep that concern about your child…I don’t blame you

  6. Dee says:

    Yes. Too many stories about the only black guy in the crowd getting hurt or killed. I would take him myself or go with them. You never know other’s intentions on harming your child. I saved one of my son(age 44) from harm as a teen. Don’t ask how I knew but said no a lot.

  7. Rich says:

    The vast majority of violence committed in this country is intraracial, meaning if you are white you are more likely to be victimized by another white, if you’re black your victimizer is most likely another black person. There is one exception: Asians are statistically more likely to have a black victimizer than an Asian one.

    As far as interracial violence, it is scewed heavily, at least in black on Asian, and black on white, with 85% of all interracial crimes between white and black folks being black on white. 15% are the opposite. Only 15 in 100 interracial white/black crimes have a white criminal, and a black victim. Yet, read what posters in this thread think, as well as the OP.

    So why are all these posters parroting this false idea that black people are at some special risk from white people? The statistics don’t support that. The statistics say the opposite. Why is this? It is so sad to see the level of actual critical thinking in our society.

  8. bill says:

    Maybe not racist but self-indulgingly paranoid.

  9. Joe says:

    Racist would be telling your son he can’t have white friends at all. What you have is a case of social-panic paranoia.
    Statistically, the odds of racially motivated violence against your son at a public venue like Six Flags is much smaller than say, him being in a car accident on the way to or from. Of course, statistics don’t matter when it happens to your child. But the reality is, you can’t protect him forever, and you’re robbing him of an opportunity to learn how to watch for himself in a very safe environment. Six Flags has extensive security and police on site at all times. Even if his friends don’t stick up for him, he’ll always be within line of sight of a park official.
    I really think you should reconsider.

  10. DJ Bernard says:

    As a father of two black boys I can definitely understand your hesitation and considering his size, when our kids are deemed older than they actually are. On the other hand Six Flags is relatively safer than being out on the streets and I wouldn’t make him bring his black friend. I’m sure that you’ve given him ” The Talk” so with my own children I would hold my breath and let him go trusting that I’d instilled in him the best tools to keep him safe and have him come back to me. You may consider, if you’re able, to go to the park yourself, not as a part of his group but still on-site nonetheless. Sending empathy your way and understanding how we have to protect our children as much as we are able.

  11. Shannon H. says:

    Definitely racist because you are only seeing color of skin which is temporary versus the soul which is Eternal, and you’re teaching your child to do the same thing by bringing it up in the first place… Now your child will forever hear your voice echoing into adulthood even if he or she grows up to be a true Christian Loving God. And yes, as Jesus Said if you Love Me you will keep My Commandments… He never Said anything about this is for white or black. My biological mothers side was very racist and I am VERY Catholic, but I can hear at times their rants and cruel things said in the disfunctional emotionally abusive home I grew up in. Needless to say, I don’t talk to any of them, my Only Family is my Holy Family and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

  12. Stephen says:

    I live in a military town which is much safer. It is still my safety precaution not to go.out with white friends drinking. As a young man I lost a Black friend at a graduation party in a suspicious drawing. THIS was many years ago and he was dating in a prominent family. His goal was to possibly play pro football. It was so devasting to the Father and mother they later divorced. In 2015 I stopped to use a restroom in a border town Virginia Tennessee and was refused service. I would still be cautious because of his size.

  13. Shakeim Lev+¹ says:

    Its a mother out there somewhere…who sadly😔 regrets her decision to🙅🏾‍♀️🙅🏽🙅🏼‍♀️ IGNORE her fears or Intuitions. You are being a parent! Not racist. Too much is going on in the world today. Has he hung out or went on several outings with this friend b4? Listen to your inner voice. If i were u id arrainge to take my own kid. Bcuz…the only person u should worry about hurting is your son. But rather the lesson with a story now, than the harsh introduction from the world. Its God DONT LET HIM GO wothout u‼️🙏🏾
    Good luck

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