He Does Say “Yes Ma’am”

My son does say “Yes ma’am,”” but he still gets profiled. Initially, he was the cute little boy and received all of the oohs and ahhs. Now, however, he isn’t a toddler anymore. He’s a dapper little lad full of personality and roughly four feet tall. And he is BROWN. Sadly, this makes him a threat to some folks. He’s probably one of the gentlest and most humble beings you’ll ever meet. But he happens to have a little more melanin.

Unfortunately for some, none of this matters simply because he was born with a naturally browner hue than some of his peers. Recently, he was told by a peer that s/he could no longer play with him because their parents said brown boys are dangerous. Now imagine the hurt and confusion my son experienced. Imagine the rage that boiled my blood. And then the total sadness that came over me when I had to have a very hard adult conversation with my eight-year-old son about race relations in America. Imagine the look of defeat on his face when for the first time he realized that an apology wouldn’t change his melanin and in this case “yes ma’am” would not allow him to play with his friend.

So, I hear you, teach him to say “yes ma’am.” But does that truly solve the issue and are we teaching all of our sons to say “yes ma’am?” If he says “yes ma’am,” will that allow him to play with his peers without judgment from the adult around? Will that same “yes ma’am” matter as much at 18 as it does now that he’s 8?

These are questions that I lie awake asking myself every night. Every night I go to bed in hopes that I’ve taught my son the right things to say and do so that maybe just maybe that “yes ma’am” will save him from the implicit biases forced upon him by society.

And to be quite frank, my son says “yes ma’am” on his own … I happen to think a “Yes” and “No” work just fine. My thoughts on forcing “ma’ams” and “sirs” are another thought for another blog.

D'Andra Odom
D'Andra Bradford Odom grew up in Jonesboro, LA. She swore to her parents that she would never live in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas. However, after completing a cooperative education assignment with IBM in Rochester, MN, she bravely returned to Louisiana to plant her roots. D’Andra earned a Bachelors from Grambling State University in Grambling, LA and a Masters from the rival school Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA. However, the rivalry only lasts for one Saturday in November, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. D’Andra has a strong passion for public policy, social justice, and cooking. Therefore, it is no surprised that this self-proclaimed foodie met her husband, Chef Brandon Odom while trying a new spot, and ultimately co-founded Odom’s Kitchen (eatwithodoms.com). Together D’Andra and Brandon have two amazing children, Josiah and Corrinne. Josiah is the gentle and compassionate little gentleman. While Corrinne marches to the beat of her own drum. One of the things she loves most about being in Louisiana is providing her children with access to three living great-grandparents. Additionally, D’Andra and Brandon enjoy entertaining friends and family through food and laughs. She considers it an added bonus to be able to share and interact with other moms in the area. As it turns out this North Louisiana native found her roots through love in South Louisiana. A badge she wears proudly.

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