Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Seductive Dream of Standing Your Ground.
I actually find this part oddly encouraging:
The man in me knows how macho imaginings usually outstrip reality. He also knows that this may not have even been a threat. He further knows that kids, in general, do dumb shit. But that wasn’t the man in me talking. It wasn’t the father who knows he needs to be around for his child. It wasn’t the husband, who knows his wife is back in New York depending on him. It wasn’t the writer who hopes that his best words are still in front of him. It was some little boy who got jumped repeatedly more than two decades ago, back in West Baltimore, and has spent the rest of his days just “wishing a nigger would,” as my people say.
That boy is a damn fool. And part of any adults maturation must be keeping the idiot in them under wraps. But I can’t kill the boy. Nor should I. It’s that same boy who tells me not to punk out when I’m doing my miles, not to be a chump and take a day off from writing. The boy reinforces the man. But he needs guardrails.
Growing up as a girl in Westchester, rather than as a boy in a neighborhood where you were expected to show you were tough, I probably don’t have as quick a fight response to keep under wraps as TNC. But, actually, in grade school I *was* the little girl who was determined to hit back every darn time anyone hit me first (and did). And I’ve grown up to be Quaker and pacifist. So I sort of like, in a “Meg, I give you your faults” way (quote from A Wrinkle in Time), the idea that the part of the little girl who was spoiling for a fight on the playground, who once swung a boy so hard she made him fall down, square dancing, because she was convinced he was trying to do the same thing to her, might have an appropriate adult outlet as the girl who tells me not to punk out on my exercise even when I’m going through chemotherapy, and the girl that made me hit the ground running and go out and get a job the time I was laid off.
But also, he’s totally right about needing to keep the idiot part of that child under wraps, give the boy guardrails, and not be in too much haste to stand your ground when people are depending on you to be responsible.