No kid wants their dad to act like the fashion police. But this guy treats it like a mission.
Here's a guy who's living the dream.
But he went to Princeton undergrad.
His name is Lawrence Otis Graham. He and his wife are Ivy-League-educated professionals with strong careers. They're raising three kids with privileges most of the country will never know.
But here's the thing...
They're really worried.
In the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Graham wrote:
"We convinced ourselves that the economic privilege we bestowed on them could buffer these adolescents against what so many black and Latino children face while living in mostly white settings."
When 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was profiled and killed in February 2012, the reality of what it means to be a black boy in the United States began to sink in. Then, after a police officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August 2014, fear and caution became their game plan.
Both cases were complete failures of justice, with the teens' killers walking free. And given just a recent account of police killings of unarmed black men and boys, their concern is understandable.
So they developed a code.
It's a set of rules that dictate how their kids dress and behave in public to avoid being unfairly targeted and potentially harmed (or worse) by cops or anyone else.
Their plan isn't unlike telling a woman not to wear revealing clothing to avoid being raped. It should go without saying that that's absurd. Because it shouldn't matter what a woman is wearing; she just shouldn't be raped, right?
Graham explained their rationale:
"No overzealous police officer or store owner was going to profile our child as a neighborhood shoplifter. With our son's flawless diction and deferential demeanor, no neighbor or playdate parent would ever worry that he was casing their home or yard."
If it sounds extreme, it's probably because it is.
To be clear, they forbid their kids from wearing clothes that other kids wear every single day because they're worried that they'll be shot dead without ever having done anything wrong. Keep that in mind as you scroll down.
Preppy clothes should not be seen as a cure.
Graham's kids aremore likely to be seen in a criminal light than white kids. Butjust as wealth and elite memberships won't shield black kids from racism,making them dress and act a certain way won't magically disarm the unconscious biases that ultimately killed Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and so many others.
Racism isn't just a matter of perception.
It's an infection that shapes not just how people act, but how systems work. It touches everything from legislation to law enforcement, from education to the job market, and everything in between. Racism is inescapable.
Our only hope is to get as many people as possible to care enough to act.
Mass resistance to injustice is the only way to change the system. Hopefully, Graham will come around to that and use his privilege to support those efforts. Because khakis, polos, and a life of deference just won't cut it.
Watch the interview below: