Race, Discipline, and My Two Biracial Sons

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About Cornelius Walker

In 2000 Cornelius Walker was named Ambassador of Useless Knowledge. Not one to rest on his laurels, he has since redoubled his efforts towards learning a little about everything and a lot about nothing.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Nick. You didn’t seem to, although you don’t get specific, think about the consequences of minority push out. Arne Duncan isn’t the first to complain about it. It’s conceivable one of your sons could be treated more leniently than he deserves if the system has maxed the minority pushout numbers. If it were possible to treat people as individuals instead of primarily carrying their group identification, we wouldn’t have this problem.

    • Nick, mostly says:

      If it were possible to treat people as individuals instead of primarily carrying their group identification, we wouldn’t have this problem.

      If only that were possible. The problem, of course, is that it’s not overt racism. I don’t believe people say, “ah, he’s black so let’s throw the book at him.” No, I think there are subconscious associations we have with skin color (but not limited to that alone) that cause modifications in our behavior that we’re not necessarily aware of. And since it is impossible to look at my two boys and see that one is significantly darker than the other, we need to be proactive in identifying and countering subconscious bias. What these statistics tell us is that the bias exists. What the Andrew Jackson school shows us is that we don’t have to be a slave to that bias.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ran into a waitress some years back. Green eyes, pale, freckled skin. Chatted about college plans.
    She had gone to a good HS in an upscale university town. Cost wasn’t an issue. She had enough Native American blood in her that either the state or the feds–can’t recall–would pay her tuition.
    During apartheid, part of the South African justice system consisted in figuring out which ethnic group you belonged to–there were a bunch–so the appropriate laws could be applied. I believe those retired justices could use a consulting gig. We’re going to have to hire them, or go through the expense of trainign new ones.

    • Nick, mostly says:

      Okay. I’m trying to follow your thinking here, but I’m not entirely sure what you were trying to say.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Nick. A person who looks more or less Irish, who went to school in an upscale fashion, most of whose ancestors are Europeans has, or has not, enough NA blood to qualify for free tuition. Questons like those were rife in SA, as certain ethnic groups were alloted certain requirements, certain benefits, certain restrictions. But when people get mixed up, ethnically, things need to be straightened out. Hence the SA race courts.
    We would need to know whether this young woman qualifies. Well, actually, she does. But if she marries, say, somebody whose parents were boat people from SEA–who generally don’t qualify for bennies, doing so well without them–what do we do?
    I am only being partially facetious.

    BTW. As I mentioned on related thread, my HS teacher daughter was assaulted three weeks ago by a black student. I discovered today that the kid’s been let back in school. Another kid, black, who assaulted another teacher, has also been allowed back in school. The teachers are white, the principal is black.
    So, in certain circumstances, your kids might not need to worry much. Now, if they happen to get an SO who is white, there could be difficulties, if the SO is teaching in this particular school.

  4. My family is the same kind of mix, with my mom being part black and my dad entirely white. My brother is extremely pale, and people would always ask my mom where she got that baby or assume she was just the nanny. It was upsetting for her to not be recognised as the mother of her first child. Same problem for my cousin’s family, where the father is very dark black and his wife is very pale (5 minutes in direct sunlight is a sunburn for her). The kids are fairly light, one with sandy hair, but definitely have ‘black’ facial features. People make the same assumptions that they are not a family or that he’s not the father. And a friend of mine is half-phillipino half-white. People always ask her how she likes being the nanny for kids who are actually her half-siblings. There’s no moral to this comment, I just think that these assumptions are very common.

  5. Tom Brechlin says:

    Nick, I live in a suburb that is predominantly white. My wife is of Mexican heritage. Although she is full blooded Mexican, she chooses to consider herself American and resents people who refer to her as “Hispanic.” She’s not sure where “Hispania” is. But I digress.

    My daughter looks more like me where my son looks more like her. In fact, he looks black. At the age of 27, he has dreadlocks down to the middle of his back. In fact, one of his HS friends who had never met me, turned to my son and said “Charlie, your dad is white.”

    12 years of school in this upper middle class suburb, my son has never had a fight. But there was one time in middle school where I got wind that there was one planned and as a dad, I was there. It had nothing to do with race but everything to do with guys trying to prove something. My wife and I along with the other kids parents sat down and talked with the kids. They remain close friends. He has a wide range of friends and as a manager at a local well known coffee house (leaving name out … they don’t need the free plug) all the cops in town know him well.

    Kids in general can be mean and not have anything to do with race. All I can say is you are doing good as a dad and with that foundation, you’re developing the making of good kids. Be a dad, stay involved and keep a watchful eye and you’ll be fine. Don’t over think … as they say “shit happens” and as long as dad is there for his kids, you’ll okay.

  6. I admire and respect the insights you offer in your article, May God bless you & your family richly.

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