This is George Beard. He’s the kid on the left with the tie and the flat top. He’s also the character Bean chose to dress as for Character Dress Up Day at school today. George is the fictional co-creator of Bean’s latest obsession, Captain Underpants. Sure, Bean could have dressed as George’s best friend, Harold Hutchins (described in the books as the kid on the right with the t-shirt and the bad haircut), but I’m glad that he chose George. Why? Because George is Black.
Let me be clear: I would not have had a problem if Bean wanted to dress up as Harold, who isn’t explicitly described by the color of his skin in the books (neither character is), but is always depicted as a white boy with blonde hair (albeit, poorly styled) in both the book and television series. I repeat: I would have happily let my child dress up as a “white” character (without, of course, actually whitening his skin). But I love that he found himself in George. While he could’ve easily chosen to be King T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, and probably the most popular costume choice among boys – especially Black boys – this year, I love that Bean’s hero is an elementary school student, like him, who loves comic books, like him, has a wild imagination, like him and is Black, like him. I am grateful that my son found a character who affirms him in blerdy glory.
Representation matters, especially in an age where we’re encouraged to be mistrustful of people who look or act different and to let those differences keep us apart. Speaking specifically on my experiences as the mother of a Black boy, it has been frightening, to say the least, to see senseless murder after senseless murder of Black people from all walks of life, a result of fear rooted in archaic, absurd and unfounded stereotypes and a painful history. Someone to be afraid of and someone worthless enough to be killed without a second thought are not how I want my son to see himself or beliefs I want him to have about himself as he grows up. I want him to see himself as a vulnerable, courageous, open, loving and joyful boy and eventually, man. That’s how I want the world to see him too. And after watching this weeks episodes of This Is Us and A Million Little Things, I’m hopeful they will. I absolutely love Randall and Rome, both Black male characters on each respective show, and their stories. I love that they get to show the world the vulnerable, sensitive, deeply loving to all and loved by all side of Black men. Those shows may not be age appropriate for Bean, but I’m glad they’ll be there for him as one of many resources as he grows up.
This weekend, we’re taking George/Bean to the Not-So-Spooky Halloween event in Matthews. Our double date at Scarowinds tonight was canceled, thanks to the cold, rainy weather we’re having tonight. I just might watch a scary movie from between my fingers tonight instead!
Have a great weekend!