When Craig Melvin excitedly waited for the birth of his first child six years ago, he thought he’d be raising his son in a “post-racial America.”
He later realized he was mistaken. The 3rd hour of TODAY anchor, who is a dad to son Delano, 6, and daughter Sybil, 3, opened up in an essay for Men’s Health about what it’s like to parent as a Black father.
“My wife and I haven’t had a conversation with our son about race yet,” he said. “Some of that is because we’re not sure what to say yet.”
Craig’s wife, Lindsay Czarniak, is white. The couple have been candid about the challenges and joys they share as an interracial couple, from when they first started dating to now raising biracial children.
While Craig is happy to let his kids enjoy their innocence, he said he’s constantly having conversations with himself, Lindsay and their family about systemic racism and how it doesn’t matter where a Black person lives or if they have a high-profile job on TV.
“The reality is that on some chance encounter with an officer where something goes wrong, you realize that there’s nothing you can do,” he said.
Growing up, Craig said, his mother raised him and his brother Ryan “not to see color” and made sure they lived in a diverse neighborhood and had friends of all colors.
“I’m not blaming my mother for my inability to see ‘soft’ racism, but consequently I may be doing the same thing with my children that my mother did with Ryan and me: shielding,” Craig said.
As a reporter, Craig has covered racially charged acts of violence and destruction, including the recent killing of George Floyd by a police officer. While he used to live a “double life” and separate the painful events he covered with his home life, he said he’s now trying to reconcile the two.
“At some point I’ll have to talk to my son about how to deal with the fact that he will go from being a cute kid with great hair to being labeled as a threat in society,” he said. “I’ll have to talk to him about how to deal with circumstances he doesn’t have control over. I’ll have to talk to him about how he’s going to carry himself in a world that doesn’t always make sense.
“But before I have this conversation with him, I’ll continue to have this conversation with myself.”