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“Your Boy Don’t Hoop?!”

July 15, 2009
by

Well, well, well, here we are again dealing with yet another stereotype about Black people- this time, it’s Black boys.

If you’ve ever seen my boychild, you know his physique is perfect for basketball.  He’s tall (his dad is 6 foot 7); all legs and arms.  His 9 year old body is like a machine.  He has the least amount of body fat I’ve ever seen and had a defined six pack by the time he was seven- honestly it’s enough to make you mad; how many crunches you gotta do to keep it lean, and this kid has it naturally, and judging by his father, will always be that way.  He can run fast, has great eye-hand coordination, all of that.

I get asked all the time when people see him “who does he play for?”  When I say he doesn’t play basketball, I get stared at like I just grew a second head and two more sets of arms.

“Your boy don’t hoop?!” is always the response, with a tone that says “wtf is wrong with you, get him on a team, you’re a horrible mother!” (LOL)

The basketball question is one I find highly annoying.  When Black people pose the question, I get the aforementioned reaction.  When people of other races ask the question, they respond to my answer with a quizzical face and obvious confusion as if they are thinking “damnit, what do I say now, I thought all Black kids play basketball and want to go pro went they get older?!”

It’s a subconscious rule that Black boys and men are athletic, and they play at least 1 of 3 sports; basketball, football or track.  If they don’t fit into at least 1 of those pre-cut boxes, the planet stops rotating and people don’t know what the hell to do or think.

The fact of the matter is, my son has not a single desire to play basketball.  He never has, and, I’m doubting that he ever will.  Hoops just isn’t his thing.  Same for football.  Track, well, we’ll see.

As a parent, I have no desire to sign my kids up to play a sport they could care less about, just because social and cultural pressures say I should.  Instead, I choose to support my kids in what they have a genuine interest in.

For the boychild, it’s Kendo (Japanese sword fighting).  This has been going on for 2 years now.  Once a week I drive him to the dojo and in he goes, with a handful of other children and a dozen or so adults.  He wears the traditional kendogi, armor, and fights with a bamboo sword.

Now, some of ya’ll might be thinking “why the hell would he want to do that?”  Beats me.  But I what I do know is that kendo is a passion in his life.  At nine years old, he is passionate about something.

Kendo isn’t always easy to watch.  Those swords are hard- no, you don’t feel me, those swords are hard, and if you don’t know what you’re doing on the floor, you’re going home injured.  He’s had his fair share of lumps, and I am certain there are more to come.  But he pushes through it.  He shakes it off.  He comes back stronger and with more resolve to take out his opponent.

He started from the beginners class and his worked his way up to the advanced class.  A few weeks ago he took 2nd place in the Bellevue Jr.’s invitational, a trophy well deserved .  He went from not placing at all, to 2nd place in nine months, finally triumphing over others who’d been able to easily beat him in the past.  He feels more senf confident (because he tells me this all the time), and that is something any parent can appreciate.

A few years ago he asked me – after hearing someone’s “your boy don’t hoop?!” comment, if he was supposed to be playing basket ball.

“No,” I said reassuring him, “you’re not supposed to play basketball.”

“But people are always asking you if I do or not.”

“Yes they do.  But it’s just a question, and it doesn’t mean anything.  You’re not doing anything wrong.”

That’s my job as mom- to reassure him that stepping out of the box  (or refusing to get in it in the first place) other people try and put you in is just fine- that he is his own person, and that he decides what he wants to do, not anyone else.

No, my son don’t hoop.  He’s a swordfighter, and a damn good one at that.

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