Growing up as an African American : Son vs Dad

Jaden Nelson



Describe your school life and the way teachers treat you.

Me: No kid really likes waking up early and going to school, but the school life really is not that hard. As long as I stay on top of My responsibilities and get what I need done I should be fine. I come to school and don't get looked at or treated differently by anyone because of my race. Teachers have always been friendly to me and made me feel welcomed into their classroom. Teachers tend to enjoy me in class and never have complaints about my performance in school.

Dad: As far as the teachers there wasn't that much of a difference. Teachers did treat us fair and I had good teachers growing up. I can't really say that teachers treated blacks differently and they showed us the same respect at least in the classroom as the other students..

What is it like finding a job?

Me: It is pretty easy finding a job in today's world. The most difficult part of getting a job would be the process of filling out applications and interviews. Race definitely still plays a part in finding a job in some ways and for some jobs depending on who is selecting their staff. Even though race still plays a small role, we came a long way in giving people equal opportunity.

Dad:I feel like it's the same, I hate to say it but I feel like there is a certain privilege that other races have for getting jobs where it's easier. Sometimes I feel like for other races it is just a phone call or connections. So overall I think that it is the same now as it was then.

How do sports compare as far as fairness with coaches?

Me: Coaches have been fair to me in my many years of playing. I have been blessed with some great coaches and teammates to go along with them. None of my coaches looked at race and judged me because of the color of my skin. The only thing that my coaches have been interested in is my talent and ability to play. Overall, my coaches have been very caring and helpful with my athletic experiences and have been nothing but fair to me and the rest of my teammates.

Dad:As far as fairness with the coaches I think that it is the same and I don't feel like it changed that much so there's not a big difference.

What activities did you and your friends do on the weekend?

Me: I usually just workout and train with my dad. I do weightlifting and basketball training everyday. Whenever I’m bored I usually drive down to Washington, Pa where I moved from and hang with some of my old friends. I am also a very big movie guy and I try to catch as many new movies as I can.

Dad: It was mainly sports, we would play basketball, football, everything, all in one day. So we played sports instead of sitting in our rooms and being on the phone and playing video games. We would come from football practice and go home and play basketball. During football season we still always played basketball; it feels like today each sport demands so much. Today a kid playing football focuses so much on that one sport that he might not even touch a basketball. Just a lot of sports and playing outside when I was growing up.

Describe dating and relationships.

Me: Dating is something that has changed a ton over the years. Back in the day it was very uncommon to date someone outside of your race. Today people think nothing of it and you are free to date whomever you like. For example, I have dated or had close relationships with girls of different races. Not too many people look at it as two different races talking, but just two people that care about each other.

Dad:  Now dating and relationships were completely different. When I was in school at Trinity, for a black guy to date a white girl pretty much didn't happen. It was like for girls to cross that line and say I’m going to go talk to the black guys or date that guy would be a big shock to their friends. They would hear about it when they went back to their friends and people that witnessed it. Things are in a much better place as far as that goes. The music has changed a lot as well; the music now is more fun and catchy and all races enjoy it and dance to it. As far as you growing up I don't feel like it is a big deal for a black kid to date or talk to a white girl.

Describe friends and friend groups.

Me:  I have a variety of friends and lots of different friend groups. There is not really a seperation of blacks and whites anymore. I have friends from every race and I communicate and respect each of my friends the same.

Dad:  Once again the music and stuff made things a lot different. My group of friends stayed close together and stuck up for each other. There were only a handful of black kids in Trinity and the divide was a lot bigger, you could see it, you could feel it. It was nothing for a kid to call you out or attack you in some way; then, it would be us verses that group. Today I don't feel like its like that at all in most schools.

How has equality changed?

Me: Equality has changed in so many ways. Many of these ways are positive and I am proud to say equality is moving in a forward direction. There is no longer as big of a division between races and it is more common to see different races together. Although equality is not completely gone, we have came a long way in bringing everyone together.

Dad: It definitely changed in a positive way, but I feel like the opportunity has always been there. Kids today with social media get to see outside of their comfort zone and how kids are living in other areas. There is also bigger opportunity and a better chance for kids to make it.

Advice for an African American growing up today.

Me: Just stay on your grind and stay focused. Don't get distracted and thrown off your path to success. There is nothing that can stop you and your goals. Work as hard as you can for what you want and take advantage of every opportunity you have.

Dad: Just take advantage of your opportunities, work hard, take advantage of getting a good education, and that you don't have to make excuses anymore. Be aware that racism still exists and be aware that you still have to walk a fine line and being profiled and stereotyped still exist.

Comparison between Perry and Trinity.

Dad: It was like night and day, there were only a handful of white kids at Perry. The white kids at Perry were mainly for the ROTC military. When I transferred to Trinity it was only a handful of black kids, so it was a complete shock coming from Perry.

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