Norman Rockwell does Ferguson, by illustrator Anthony Freda

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A riff on Rockwell's "Runaway," from 1958, done in 2014 by Anthony Freda. [HT: @stevesilberman]

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  1. i am a middle-aged white man with two biracial grandsons, 14 and 11, who resemble trayvon martin and michael brown much more than they do ethan couch. as they have grown my fears for their safety have grown as well. my son has had to teach them to be extra-cautious around the predominately white authority figures from teachers and principals to police. he has had to teach them to be meek and submissive in ways he and i have never had to. many, if not most, of my white colleagues at my school seem to believe i am greatly overstating the dangers from authorities my grandsons face in life. if i point to trayvon martin they change the subject to the 2nd amandment and the importance of the "stand your ground" principle. if i point to michael brown they want to talk about pot smoking and shoplifting. if i mention eric garner they say it could have happened to anyone who resisted.

    i have spent most of my life since i was capable of rational thought as a proponent of racial harmony and tolerance both by example and in discussion. i regret to say that i am no longer an optimist. indeed, i have almost come to believe that there is no way to generate empathy for african-americans among the majority of the white population of texas. i have come to believe that our long dark history of slavery drove us as a society mad and we have never recovered.

  2. I completely empathize with your concern for your grandsons. My two youngest sons were born along the Banks of the Amazon River in Peru. They are of deep copper complexion and even in parts of Peru they faced discrimination for being Indios, for being too dark. They were quite young when I came into their lives, somewhat older by the time I could adopt them and we could come back to the states. They have pride in their roots and we have always had an open conversation about racism and hatred. They are warm and respectful when dealing with people of any race but they question anyone who displays racism either to themselves or others.They are aware that this puts them at risk with certain people and accept it. They view it in the same way they realized the danger of snake bite, Caimans or Piranhas. Life is dangerous, have appropriate concern but live life to the fullest. I fear for them and admire them. As strange as racism is it seems that life is harder for black people than for brown...I cannot tell because I see the world through my white eyes.

    It is all the more maddening because when I look at them I simply see two little boys who placed their lives in my care. How could anyone not love these two. Like you I have encountered the haters, Like you I accept the fact that some people seem incapable of open minds. I wish the best for your grandsons and my own sons. Thanks for sharing your story.

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