Be the Change
UEI College is committed to supporting racial equality.
We stand in solidarity with the African American community for social justice.
Morrow Campus Finalist
I was born and raised in Chicago, in some of the most poverty-stricken areas, but it’s where I learned everything I know. Growing up in the streets of Chicago has been full of some great memories and other times not so great. In recent years, there has been an increase in racism and social injustice towards blacks. When I became a man and had a child of my own, I promised myself I would always teach him that love has no color. I raised my son on the outskirts of Chicago, in a town called Naperville. Only 15 years ago this was a predominantly white town. But I didn’t care, I wanted to give him the opportunities that I didn’t have as a child including better schools, resources, and neighborhoods. Even at a young age, he knew he was different based on the color of his skin. So, I tried to be transparent with him, and prepare him for a world that is sometimes not so nice. I taught him no matter what, always be kind to others. While teaching my son how to deal with racism, I myself was also experiencing discrimination. There were times it was difficult for me to find jobs because of the color of my skin. While being well qualified for these positions, a Caucasian seemed to always get the job over me. I became discouraged after a while and decided to move to Georgia in 2019. While my son remained in Naperville, IL. I needed a change for myself.
Last year was my son’s first year of high school. He joined the wrestling team and the math team. He seemed to do well, despite the small racial inequalities he experienced being African American. He would always call me, to tell about his day at school. Well, on November 17, 2019, I didn’t get my usual excited phone call from him. Later that evening, another parent called my son’s mom to give her some disturbing news. My son became the focus of a viral social media post. A Caucasian student in one of his classes thought it would be fun to shout racial slurs at him in class. A picture was also taken of my son and was later posted on Craigslist with a caption “thick hardworking slave n-word for sale”. The post was screenshot and passed from student to student across the school. Within hours, nearly every student in school had seen the picture and post, including my son.
My son was devastated, he felt exiled, and he didn’t feel that anyone liked him anymore. He couldn’t grasp his mind around why this was being done to him. My heart broke a million ways for him. I talked to my son, I told him that those kids were just making fun and not to let it bother him. He told me, “Dad you always told me that I was very special, well I guess you were right.” That night, I cried for my son, I cried because I couldn’t take the pain away from him. I promised myself I would always block his pain, but this time I couldn’t do it. He was getting a taste of how cold the world could really be. Following the incident, my son didn’t want to leave his room. He didn’t want to go to school, eat, or wake up. It hurt my heart that I couldn’t be there with him. I prayed for God to take his pain away. After a week or so, his mom and I convinced him that he had to go back to school. He finally agreed and went back to school. Everyone stared at him, some students even snickered. One Caucasian student chanted when he walked past in the hallway “I’ll buy you for a dollar”. This was a difficult time for Anthony Jr. but he had a lot of support to get through it.
My son’s story made national headlines, all the way to Washington. The NAACP contacted me and his mother to discuss the matter and wanted us to go to the township meetings to meet with the Naperville school board. Fast forward, a month later the teens who posted the post were charged with two counts of committing a hate crime and disorderly conduct. It was a very sad situation for all parents of the students involved. It was sad because the boys who made the post destroyed their lives all from a fun joke. For my son, they destroyed a part of his innocence. It took a while before my son could get back to who he was, and even now, he still isn’t the same. He suffered depression behind this and had to seek counseling. Even today, he looks at the world completely different. His story was all over the internet so he couldn’t get past what happened. We ended up switching his school and his mom decided to move to another city. Today, he is doing much better, still getting good grades, and getting back to being my silly, funny son.
My son’s story is just one of the many experiences we have had to face as blacks. Our children can’t be children and grow up and love one another, regardless of color. Parents are teaching their children that African American children are different and it’s becoming a generational curse. It saddens me that this is continuing to happen today. I watch the news every day and it still breaks me that our society is broken, and our justice system is flawed. And my son was a victim of it. I have included a picture of my son in this essay because I want people to see my son Anthony Jr. as the smart, silly, vibrant and fun-loving boy that he really is. I know he doesn’t see it anymore, but he is still special. He loves helping others and learning new things. He enjoys being silly, playing video games, and drawing characters. He gets good grades and loves sports. I hope whoever reads this essay understands that love has no color. Be good and kind to others. I'm impacting my African American community, by sharing my son’s story. I hope that his story can be a light.