I've always marveled at my son’s lifelong love for his Blackness. And it's even more clear now that he's a senior at NYU and earning a degree that celebrates Black culture.

By Barbara Brandon-Croft
May 19, 2021
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A group of images of Barbara Brandon-Croft's son, Chase.
Credit: Courtesy of Barbara Brandon-Croft.

I've always relished my duty-bound task to nurture in my only child the pride, the joy—and, solemnly, the reality—of being Black. Chase grew up knowing and singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Black national anthem, which seamlessly followed the Pledge of Allegiance as part of his largely Black preschool's daily routine. (Honestly, I don't think he could say the pledge today without immediately launching into the hymn.)

When he later attended a predominately white school, he never forgot who he was or where he'd come from. Once, during pickup time, a mom excitedly came up to me and said, "That Chase is a real talent." He showed me the certificate he'd gotten that day. "Wow!" I said, "You won the dance contest!" He said to me, comically deadpan, "Yeah, at this school." Ha!

So many times like this he's made my heart swell with Black joy. Once, back in his preschool days, he sighed and said, "I wish I was dark like everyone else." Such sweet words coming from my melanin-challenged boy. Or a few years later, when he expressed his utter exasperation that not one of his fellow first-graders knew who Stevie Wonder was. Chase simply couldn't believe it. After all, this was the kid who, as we listened to the soul radio station in the car, once called out from his booster seat, "Is that Prince?" My husband and I were stunned. "Good guess!" we said. "That's Morris Day and The Time—Prince wrote and played on this song." (How many little ones can discern the Minneapolis sound?!)

Now that Chase is in his senior year at New York University, he's earning his degree in Black culture, Black art, and Black performance. I know he feels the joy of who we are. And I'll say it loud: I could not be more proud.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's June 2021 issue as "Black Parenting Joy: Proud of His Pride." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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