At the age of 17, like the characters within this book I also dated someone outside my race. That said, at the time it wasn’t really “dating”. I didn’t call him “boyfriend” and he didn’t call me “girlfriend”, but we definitely had something. What that was, I am not too sure.
Although the neighborhood I grew up in was very diverse, the people I knew and hung out with were just like me: white , middle class, Irish folk living on the South Side of Chicago. I was always comfortable within this community and when I did something different, I never thought I would be judged, until one moment.
I decided to take my “friend” to the senior dance. When I told my mother her immediate response was, “Well, you better tell your Father.” I had taken other boys to school dances and my dad never batted an eye. Why was this different?
Confused, I followed my Mothers orders, went and told my father. He was silent after I told him. I remember it so clearly and can still recall how awkward I felt. It felt like I was doing something wrong, but wasn’t really sure what that was. He ‘s only words were, ”Well, if you take pictures you can’t do them here.” That’s when it hit me. My father didn’t want me going to the school dance with a black boy.
I left the room shocked. My Father had and still has black friends and coworkers. In fact, one of my schoolmate’s Dad was one of his old friends and the was not white. Our neighbors who we played with every day came from all different background and my parents never said a word. Was it because he though he was my boyfriend? Is that what changed the game?
I never asked my father and I went to the dance with my “friend”. We had a blast and I’m so glad I chose him for my date.
The Sun is Also a Star, brought me back to my high school moment and caused me to reflect. I can honestly say, that I am fortunate enough to have never really experienced racism. Other than the awkward exchange in my teens, I have never thought twice about holding my partners hand or worry what my friends and family may think just because of the color of my partners skin. I will never truly understand.
Were Natasha and Daniel’s parents just a product of their generation? Are mine? Maybe, but something I realized about my parents while reading this book was that although they have different views on the matter of race, they never once told us to think as they did. Growing up with neighbors, friends and schoolmates of all different backgrounds, they always just encouraged us to have fun and make friends. For that I am grateful, because if they hadn’t done that, maybe I would have been that person staring at Natasha and Daniel while they walked down the street holding hands.
The Sun is Also a Star although very unrealistic, had some heavy and themes that speak truths: racism, immigration, class, love, loss, fate and time. All of which many American teens are dealing with today. Is it a must read? No, but it gives people, young people especially an outlet. An outlet to talk about what no one wants to talk about. To start a discussion about how society’s pressure are affecting our everyday lives. Although we might not want to talk about it, we have to.
Now, on to the next big adventure! The Zookeeper’s Wife