It’s odd to think that five months ago, I was holding my wife’s hand while a large mass of hair exploded out of her nether regions. Theodore still has his head full of hair but has gained so much more ever since that fateful winter day. He is now rolling over regularly – from his right side but not his left – and spends a considerable amount of time on his stomach. While on his stomach, he tries to worm his way across the floor in a manner akin to a sprinting Jabba the Hut. Each time a new person comes into the room, he smiles and welcomes them with a gift of regurgitated milk. The spit up is relentless, and we probably go through five outfits a day. Just the other week, Teddy looked into my eyes and pooped for 30 seconds straight; a connection of intimacy that I never thought was possible. My reading and writing have gone down significantly because we watch ESPN for most of the day. Why ESPN? When Teddy takes a nap, he needs background noise to stay asleep. Music never seemed to work, and so the TV provides his auditory stimulus. I can’t stand The View or any type of syndicated news – hence, we watch people argue about the NBA Finals all day long. I enjoy sports, but my knowledge of current events in the realm of athletics has reached an expert level; I can tell you the merits of Lebron staying in LA, the poor draft choice of the New York Giants, and even the prospects of Tiger winning another Major. I try to juxtapose ESPN with audiobooks so Teddy can have some variety; we just finished a biography of John Muir and are now tackling Vanity Fair.
Christina is pretty well back to the groove of work – however, I chauffeur Teddy to her office regularly so she can smell his head. My biggest takeaway at five months is that Teddy can laugh. He doesn’t laugh often, but when he does, it is a magical experience. He is ticklish under his armpits and if you are ever so subtle…a small giggle will squeak out. In addition to the rare chuckle, we have reached the milestone of feeding him some solid food. His first ever sampling was mashed up banana – his mouth and face enjoyed it thoroughly. I grew up in a family where love was given through food – suffice to say I am excited to plump up this skinny Asian-baby. Speaking of weight, he is a sprightly 15 and a half pounds and is in the 33rd percentile in his size charts. I’m looking forward to the summer and taking him to the beach – we bought him a hat that will attract all the ladies. He has a lot of energy, and I believe he will be crawling within the next couple of months; this will be both a blessing and a curse because it will expend some of his energy but use up most of mine. I can’t say that I would want to go back to that day in January when “Cousin It” came out of my wife. The more Teddy grows and develops, the more I enjoy him – the baby phase is great and all but by no means I want him to stay this way forever. Here’s to the five-month point of the most tiring and fantastic year of my life.
PS – Here is a list of his current nicknames for posterity
Brown Eyed Squirrel
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Let’s be honest for a second. Have you ever done anything to celebrate Martin Luther King Day? I for one have done squat nothing. Usually for me, MLK Day in the past entailed no school and a visit to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet with my Mom. As a privileged white youth, I didn’t have a lot of personal connection with a black pastor from the 1960’s. To me it was difficult to relate to the struggle of African Americans throughout the history of the United States. I was taught that after the 1960’s, everything was essentially peachy in respects to race relations. There was no longer slavery. There was no longer “separate but equal.” There was no longer systemic institutions that oppressed a race. What made my ignorance worse, was the fact that I thought racism only existed in the south. Michiganders weren’t racist. We helped free slaves during the Civil War. We never had Jim Crow Laws. We were the safe haven- Pure Michigan.
Of course, you are probably thinking to yourself, “…what the frick, this guy is the whitest man alive! Did he really think that racism was over? Was he that obsessed about the Pizza Hut buffet that the hate of the world never hit him in the face? I for one was not ignorant and always watched Roots on MLK Day.” Yes, I was a sheltered fat kid who had rose-tinted glasses of the world. Please refrain from your Roots ego trip to hear me out for a second. My ignorance has been decreased through my journey of seeking wisdom. Racism is still an ever-present thing in America. Racism was not reversed after the Civil War. Racism had no borders between North and South. Racism was not extinguished by Martin Luther King Jr. I know now that the United States has systematically targeted the black population through policing measures and mass incarceration (click here). I know now that there were and still are policies in place that keep black and white children from intermingling in schools (click here). I know now that we are psychologically predisposed to fear black men because of cultural imagery (click here). To put it another way, I know now the importance of MLK Day.
As a white man, I feel responsible to acknowledge these wrongs and to do my part in identifying ways to reduce racism in today’s world. How can I personally reduce racism? I think one key way is to educate others about the systems in place that oppress African Americans. As a white man I do not fear getting pulled over by a police officer (click here). I do not fear imprisonment because I lack the money for a reputable lawyer (click here). I do not fear for the quality of my future child’s public education (click here). These systems are in the spotlight currently and I am glad that people are talking about them. What I think we shouldn’t do is downsize them and imagine that all things are equal. Growing up as a white male in a suburb, all things being equal, provides a much greater advantage in life compared to growing up as a black male in the ghetto. Is it possible to become a doctor as a black woman raised in Detroit? Of course it is. But the path to get there is so much harder because of the general environmental differences between white and black. That woman may not have had access to the college prep high school because of her address. She may not have had a Dad because of “search and frisk” quotas. She may not have had access to summer education because a lack of funding.
The individual is always responsible for decisions but the United States is responsible for making the playing field fair. My aim today is to inform everyone that there is still a lot of work left to do on a system wide level. We shouldn’t be like my younger Pizza Hut self and think everything is just dandy. We should never say, “I overcame challenges so they should stop whining and work harder.” It is that logic that was once used to argue for “separate but equal.” It is that logic that makes people passive observers to everyday racism. So, as a White man I for one thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for making the world more understanding and fair for all Americans. To celebrate this day, I honor you through this post and will make it a goal to educate those about the present-day inequities of the world so that one day a Pizza Hut boy may be correct in wearing his rose-colored glasses.