Black and white

Joey Garcia

My 24-year-old son is biracial but passes for white. I am white, and his father was Nigerian. (He died when my children were young.) My son refuses to acknowledge that his sister (who looks like her father) or I exist. My son, who is in the Army, changed his surname and refuses my letters. My son’s girlfriend is pregnant. He led her to believe that my sister is his mother. His girlfriend called my sister to ask pregnancy-related questions, such as whether there were any inherited illnesses in our family. My sister could not answer all the questions, so she said that she adopted him. My son has said that if his girlfriend finds out that he is a (insert racial slur here), he will kill himself. What if his child resembles his father or sister? Do you think I should be more insistent that he acknowledge that his sister and I exist and that he is black?

Not unless you want to push him further away. It’s hopeless to insist that your adult son behave according to your ideals. His strict boundaries should make it clear to you that you cannot control him. Why do you want to mother a man who insists that you are not his mother? Your heart yearns for reunion, but you must mourn that desire and then grow content through the memories of happier times. This will allow you to channel your affection, support and attention to your daughter. Focus on who is present in your life, not who is absent from it.

Of course, it’s possible that the darker side of this situation is sibling rivalry. Are you obsessed with securing your son’s attention because of a longstanding competition with your sister? In childhood, did the two of you vie for the affection of a parent? Are you overly focused on the content of conversations between your sister and your son? Explore these issues honestly.

Also acknowledge whether you deny any of your own family history. If so, be compassionate toward your son. As a woman of mixed ethnicities myself, I value the cultural riches bequeathed to me by African ancestors, but I also respect the journey of those still struggling with self-acceptance.

I am disgusted by the charges against Michael Jackson and do not understand why the public does not see through this freak. How can the public rally to his side when the safety of children is at risk?

Michael Jackson symbolizes the eternal child, the archetype of an adult who is addicted to childhood. This addiction is generally formed in response to abuse early in life. The eternal child often is obsessed with icons of childhood. (Jackson’s home is called Neverland Ranch; it features a zoo, etc.) The eternal male child will have caretakers—for example, women who play Wendy to his Peter Pan—and will appear innocent, but often his behavior is not childlike at all.

Our culture idealizes these adult children because they symbolize our yearning to return to a carefree time. Culturally, we’re conflicted: We want the eternal child to grow up, yet we also are strangely drawn to this symbol as it is. This unconscious attraction often results in a compulsion to protect the archetype (because it symbolizes something the culture wants to save) even at the risk of harm to others. But don’t be duped by the courthouse crowds. As a former public-relations executive, I suspect that the people rallying around the courthouse were paid for their appearance much like extras on a movie set.

Meditation of the week
I was brunching at the Black Cat Cafe with my friend Trish when a woman at a nearby table unwrapped a gift box labeled “The Perfect Guy.” She noticed our curious glances and brought it over. It was a doll that said sweet things when you squeezed his hand. What inspires you to share your sweetness?

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