Meet Devonte, the little boy with a big heart

This young boy will not only capture your heart, he will make you think.

A young boy who was born into a life of drugs, extreme poverty, danger and destined for a bleak future is defying stereotypes in the most remarkable way. And his latest encounter at a grocery store is bound to open your eyes, widen your mind and capture your heart.

Devonte Hart with his mum, Jen.

Devonte Hart with his mum, Jen.

To truly understand just how incredible this encounter was, you need to know some history.

Devonte Hart entered the world 12 years ago with drugs pumping through his tiny newborn body.

By the time he was 4 years old he had smoked, consumed alcohol, handled guns, been shot at, and suffered severe abuse and neglect.

He knew only a handful of words, including fuck and shit, and he struggled to identify with the names of food, body parts and every day objects. Devonte was a violent toddler and his health was weighed down by a heavy list of disabilities.

It was a life with little hope and a future that seemed over before it began.  

That is until Jen Hart and her wife Sarah entered Devonte’s life and adopted him and his two siblings seven years ago.

Jen says the day she met Devonte was frightening and traumatic.

“That night, after we finally got him to sleep, I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life. I felt like there was no way we could raise this child, and the five others we had adopted.”

Yet, she says, there was something inexplicable pulling at her heart.

“I felt more connected to this fragile little boy more than I had ever felt to anyone in my life.”

With their unconditional love, nurturing natures, patience and acceptance, Devonte defied all odds and has grown into a young charismatic man with a heart of gold.

Devonte supporting one of his favourite charitable campaigns, Free Hugs.

Devonte supporting one of his favourite charitable campaigns, Free Hugs.

“He inspires me every single day. He has proven doctors, psychologists and teachers wrong. His future is most definitely not bleak, he is a shining star in this world. His light shines bright on everyone on his path.

“People always tell us how lucky he is that we adopted him. I tell you, we most certainly are the lucky ones. Yes indeed he is living proof that our past does not dictate our future.”

Devonte’s charm and genuine kindness has surprised his parents on many occasions including the time he asked if he could spend his 11th and 12th birthday raising money for charity. Or the time he clung to musician Xavier Rudd while festival-goers watched an emotional and powerful moment unfold between the two. And then again earlier this week while standing in the grocery store’s checkout line.

Jen has shared what played out on her Facebook page and with Paper Trail. She writes:

An elderly man was standing at the end of the bagging area conversing with the woman checking us out. He spots our son – looks him up and down.

Man: I can tell you are going to be a baseball player when you grow up.

Son: *Pauses, tilts his head and gives a closed mouth grin* Actually, no. Baseball isn’t really my thing.

Man: Well, I can tell you are going to be a ball player.

Son: (As his mom, I can tell there is a slight frustration inside of him) No, I don’t even play baseball.

Checkout lady: Oh, I bet you’re going to be a basketball or soccer player then!

Son: No, I don’t play any sports. It’s just not my thing. There’s nothing wrong with sports or anything, I just have other interests.

Checkout lady: (in a befuddled nearly astonished voice) WHAT!?!? I have NEVER met a kid that looks(!!!) like you that doesn’t play sports.

Man: *chuckling* Right?! never. They all do!

***My face was as red as my hair at this point. It was so obviously clear what was happening. While I wanted so badly to step in and protect my son from the ongoing racial stereotyping, I didn’t. I let him step into his own power and he handled it brilliantly***

Son: Well, of course you’ve never met a kid like me. I’m one of a kind. There’s not another person like me.

Man: Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Son: I’m here to help people. I’m here to inspire. Now.

Man: Oh, so you’re going to be a doctor? (as he laughed while he said it – not kidding)

Son: No, I’m not.

Man: Well, being a doctor is the best way to help people. What are you going to do to help and inspire people?

Son: (putting the last of the bags in the cart) I’m going to be myself. No matter how much people try to make me something I am not. Have a great night! *flashes ginormous smile*

“I think this kid will be alright. No matter what is tossed at him,” Jen says.

Jen hopes the question, what do you want to be when you grow up? extinguishes from our cultural lexicon.

“Perhaps we can replace it with questions that don’t catapult children 20 years into the future. What are you passionate about? What inspires you? What excites you? What makes you feel good?

“I think society needs all the reminders they can get that they are not defined by their careers. And for the love of the universe, let’s not categorise abilities by skin tone. Let’s move forward, shall we?”

About Chloe Johnson (75 Articles)
After spending many years in newsrooms around the world, Chloe changed tack and entered the world of communications. But the journalist-turned-comms adviser can’t seem to stay away from the news or expressing an opinion on stuff. Enter the co-creation of Paper Trail. Chloe is also a Huffington Post blogger. When she’s not pounding her thoughts out on a keyboard, or trying to save the world one story at a time, you will find Chloe making a fool of herself on a snowboard, or in the kitchen attempting to make healthy junk food like cacao muffins laced with beetroot juice (WTF?).

163 Comments on Meet Devonte, the little boy with a big heart

  1. magical marty // November 12, 2014 at 1:21 am // Reply

    Thank you for this inspiring story!

    • As the mother of 4 sons we often get this reaction from Caucasians and my sons have never played a sport that involved a ball. Like you it infuriates me beyond compare, but my boys behavior (never been in trouble w the law) & Honor Roll students means more than certain peoples ignorance. Ive often thought about being a foster parent and stories like this make me really consider it. Bless all of your family! <3

      • to both moms of this wonderful young boy; please teach your son that not every comment is not racially motivated or based on ignorance, some people simply don’t know how to talk to young people and say what they feel is comfortable. My oldest son was 6′ 4″ and was always asked if he played basketball. Truth be told, he had 2 left feet and didn’t give 2 shakes about any sport

        • You are right, not every comment is racially motivated. This particular incident, 9 times out of 10, the woman & man had that thought because of his race. Not knowing is a sign of ignorance & saying what’s comfortable doesn’t make it right to say…

        • If one doesn´t kow how to talk with young people isn´t that ignorance?

  2. Wow. This young man’s story brought me to tears & made me take a real good look at my negative attitude towards my own life. Thank you for this.

  3. Shelley Parfait // November 28, 2014 at 7:56 pm // Reply

    This is awesome! Not just the 12 year-old, the Mother-her heart, the way she is raising him as well! Your journalist skills are inspiring to all especially those of us that write!

  4. What a fantastic story. We could all learn much from this young man and his mom. Thank you for sharing this. I feel lucky I stumbled upon it.

  5. Great little story, and I especially love the false sense of racial stereotyping….

    My son used to get the same comments and I never once felt racism because his he DID look like an athlete, but somehow this child is automatically racially stereotyped because someone says he looks like he’ll be a ball player?

    Astonishing leap in logic for the parent.

    • Not really, if you understand how logic works.

      The key phrase that outs your reasoning as BS is “because [your son] DID look like an athlete”. That is describing a single plausible theory (not a fact, a THEORY) why you think YOUR son would get comments that he looked like an athlete. That has nothing to do with this child. Given that the boy explicitly stated that he isn’t into any sports, it doesn’t logically follow that he has an athletic build. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. He certainly doesn’t look that way from the pictures. You’re leaping to the conclusion that he must because you’re trying to grasp at whatever straw you can to try to dismiss the suggestion that they were racially stereotyping. Your reasoning reveals your bias.

      “I never once felt racism” is also a hilariously reasoned opinion that you’re trying to pass off as a fact. Just because you never felt it doesn’t mean it never happened. Anyone with an agenda to take racial bias off the table in any situation where it’s a valid theory isn’t exactly qualified to point out when racism is happening in the first place. Hence why you and others are mistaking this woman’s deduction for an assumption.

      I don’t expect you to agree with me, by the way. People who reason like you have a higher tendency to have egos that are easily bruised and fall apart when criticized, refusing to even consider the flaws in their argument out of spite. But I will suggest that you should interrogate your own biases before marrying yourself to a presumptuous opinion. Otherwise leave the logic to the people who actually understand it.

      • Not really worth engaging anyone in a debate who has such a condescending approach to critiquing another opinion. Insult & bait the other person and then insult some more. How sad, tired and predictable. Congrats. You basically are just an internet troll. #lame#tired

      • Big T – your statement was so unkind and I realize there is a lot of hurt and anger within you, but please don’t tear up a fellow human whom you don’t know. You haven’t walked in their shoes as they have not walked in yours. Everyone has a broken heart – everyone. We don’t have rights to trample upon each other’s feelings. We’re too delicately put together.

      • james johnson // November 30, 2014 at 2:32 am // Reply

        You dont understand logic at all
        People like you take something positive and try to “intelligently tear it down”because you simply cant let it go!the person was just trying to relate and you told them cause they dont think like you…they are wrong..i personally wouldnt leave anything up to you in any open forum because cleary you have boundries in your thought process…love drives a good person…hate tries to drag them down.

      • Wow. Pompous.

      • So you missed the “they all do part”. Some folks need to be hit in the head with the racism stick to see it. The conversation in that store… If you only knew how many of these types of conversations black people endure on a daily basis. Its not even about trying to convince non black people anymore. Its now about just being safe whilst doing everything your race does because news flash, besides pigment, no difference but I know that’s still just myth, like the dinosaurs. We are over your convenient blind eye to racism. We will survive whether you care or not.

    • You seem to have missed the part where the old man days “I’ve never seen a kid that LOOKS like you who doesn’t play…” and the woman says “Right!? THEY ALL do..” Since you have trouble reading. And Actually, this happens quite often. Shocker.

    • I’m glad I too stumbled on this story. I am inspired and overjoyed with heart felt emotions. I will be sharing this.

    • I will agree with you that not all comments that may sound motivated from racial undertones (good or bad) are meant to be racist comments. As the boy did, when we answer questions as they are asked, then we all can learn from each other. For example, if the mom jumped right in and yelled at them for racial stereotyping, then the conversation ended. Because the boy was allowed to respond, there was a decent dialogue going. If the adults were stereotyping, then they get to go home, talk to their family about this precocious young man, and conclude they need to work on their prejudices. OR they just go home and talk about this little boy they met at work. Period.

      Shoot… I’d want someone to mistaken me for a ball player… LOL!

      • RC – I’m not sure why its such a revelation that this one boy is one of a kind. I am not sure why his answer was so revolutionary. Part of what makes being AA so exhausting is the expectation to put up with INSANITY all day everyday with the grace of a saint and any expression of exasperation is tagged as unnecessary by people who have never encountered the same situations AND who expect an endless serving of grace.

        • Well said RC, I am a Caucasian middle age woman and you gave me insight into the struggle you must face because of the insane expectations when dealing with an insane situation.

    • Telling a young black male that he is going to be a sports player repeatedly when he grows up, the words sink in. Then if that child isn’t fit for the only thing that adults are telling him he is able to do, that is going to set him up for failure. Also it is objectifying, you aren’t seeing the whole person. You might as well tell a little girl that she looks like the sort who is going to be a secretary when she grows up. There is nothing wrong with being a administrative assistant, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want adults to tell me that was all I had under the hood as a child.

    • Derek Slimmon // December 11, 2014 at 5:35 am // Reply

      Couldn’t agree more… acknowledging the physical appearance of someone and thinking they are an athlete is not racial stereotyping. It’s an observance. The parent seems to be looking for a reason to be angry.

  6. Great kid, great story! Nice to see hope in a future generation. Sad to read that the questions regarding a sports career were turned into a racial thing, every boy regardless of color has dreamed of being a professional athlete at some point in their young lives so I wouldn’t have taken the older mans questions as racist. Great story though, thanks for the share.

    • The mother is on point. This amazing boy highlights an important lesson which is every little boy does not have the same dream. I’ve known plenty who never wanted to be an athlete. Just like there a plenty of little girls who never wanted to be a mommy during play.

      • Ok, if it wasn’t racism, at the very least you have to acknowledge the sexism. Just because a boy is a boy, shouldn’t imply he will grow up to play sports. Just because a boy is a black boy, certainly doesn’t mean he will grow up to play sports. Do I think these people were being racist? No, I think they were being ignorant. And that is a huge part of the problem our society faces – it’s not that people are blatantly judging people by their gender, skin, etc, it is the underlying subtext that occurs without most people even pausing to think about what they are saying. What is this, 1950? Think before you speak, the world gets better.

    • I agree with you. My Son was asked the same things growing up work almost the identical statements. He’s white. Her racism assumed what they meant instead. It was a nice story about a great kid. I’m concerned that his parents are going to teach to read things that aren’t there.

      • Good for you. You and your son are lucky that you have never have to second guess what someone is insinuating by their comments. Just remember though, that isn’t everyone’s experience. In the real world, there are people who DO stereotype and people DO say insensitive remarks related to race, which is why some people have to think twice about what someone really means in certain situations. Just because it doesn’t happen to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. But whatever, you can just keep pretending like nobody is ever insensitive about race and that its all in their heads.

        • Why do you have to worry about what they meant or second guess what they said? Ok, they were stereotyping. So?is that the most terrible thing out there? Sounds like you yourself are stereotyping them. How about just letting it go? Do we have to hate or fight everyone who may stereotype or be somewhat insensitive? Are you going to make it worse by being hyper sensitive?

          Better to do as Davonte did. Just answer the questions. We need to stop being so hyper sensitive, especially when people mean nothing bad! We all grew up in different backgrounds. Many people were exposed to some racial stereotypes. Plus the idea of Black young men being athletes has some validity as we look at how many have excelled in sports. The NBA isn’t exactly balanced racially.

          My Mom, who was born in 1912 & grew up in Los Angeles told of how when she was in HS or college she had a Black friend & innocently used the N word. Her friend educated her that that was offensive & she learned. & back then, my Mom didn’t know any better until her friend educated her. Now if that happened today, people should know better.

          There is a huge difference between harmless stereotyping like this & racism that wants to keep other races down. What about Black racism? The whole Ferguson thing involves major stereotyping of White cops dealings w Black youths. The individuals involved were largely lost in all this. Both Brown & Wilson were largely stereotyped, rather than people looking at each one individually.

      • Anthony C Okafor // November 29, 2014 at 3:53 am // Reply

        Uhh, why did he say “they ALL do” when referring to “kids like him”? it’s TOO easy to insinuate racial overtones. And no. Everyone does NOT assume every boy wants to play sports. That’s a lie. Most likely, that assumption is placed on minorities since minorities only make up the majority of athletes in 2 of the 4 major sports in America. She’s teaching her son the REALITY that people out there will pre-judge him based on how he looks. That’s better than putting him in the Fairytale land of “Racism doesn’t exist anymore because the president is black”

      • I think you’re only saying that about the parents because they are both female. They’re not reading into anything and the child wasn’t reading into anything either. The only reason you said what you said was because they are both female and they’re both married end of story.

      • Maybe you need to re-read the article and the comments made and stop living in denial.

      • astralgirl01 // November 30, 2014 at 4:25 am // Reply

        Did you miss the part where the old man says that “THEY ALL” look like ball players? Sorry, but that is a classic racial stereotype, especially here in the States. I have a feeling this mother is doing just fine, and Devonte side-stepped that old man’s ignorance with no problems himself!

      • Robin, maybe you haven’t spend time trying to understand the race issues and do more defending then understanding. Re-read the story within the context of the nation that you live in, with its long irrefutable history (our reality), then ask yourself why you don’t want to think that this could be an issue. Why you would rather think this isn’t want was happening.

    • Not a leap in any way. On this planet, anyway.

    • Hi Tony I believe I’m replying to the right person, the mom didn’t “take it as a racist comment” the old gentleman said “they all do” referring to playing ball and that was a racist comment.

      • kp, no that was a stereotyping comment. Big difference. People throw the term racism around way too much. Ignorantly stereotyping is quite different than racism. Davonte handled the comments very wisely–unlike so many of the adults here. He didn’t get all bent out of shape or get rude. While his Mom saw some frustration, that was the way to handle the comments–w facts to correct their mis impressions & stereotypes so hopefully they learned from it.

        Is there real racism w negative stereotypes that a person may be adamant about? Yes! Even at least 1 comment here showed that. But there is also insensitivity which is something to cut people some slack on. Those who are being hyper vigilant to any insensitivity are not being very constructive. People make insensitive comments–about all sorts if things besides race.

        Sometimes the best thing is to just let it go. Other times when there is a question, like Davonte we could give a polite answer that educates the other party.

        Getting all offended or calling the other person a racist risks being a racist oneself!

    • No. Not every boy. My boy has never dreamed of being a professional athlete. He tried soccer, softball and akido (all mom’s idea), and made his own decision that he preferred science.

  7. The mother’s analysis is on point. This amazing boy highlights an important lesson which is every little boy does not have the same dream. I’ve known plenty who never wanted to be an athlete. Just like there a plenty of little girls who never wanted to be a mommy during play.

  8. Sheila Drahos // November 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm // Reply

    I would really like to follow this child & find out what he does month by month or anytime something happens in his life Thank you for this story

  9. YES! Thank you for the lovely story and sharing this young mans journey. Such an inspiration to the young, old and the in-between.

  10. I love reading these stories. He sounds like an amazing child. To defy the odds and grow up with such a positive perspective is astonishing. However I’m happy he was asked what he wanted to do when he grows up.
    Devonte had been given a great chance at doing something with his life, whatever that may be. His adopted parents are helping that happen and without that help would he have that chance. Would he be asked that question? Having the freedom or choice to build your life and search out a goal of being a school teacher, doctor, nurse, or just being happy is such a blessing. I liked Devonte’s answer to the man when he asked what Devonte wanted to be. And again without that question we would miss an opportunity to see such a shinning light.
    We need to be challenged to help us be creative. When we are asked defining question we are in a since challenging ourselves. We can either answer it with a unique answer or a standard answer, and neither is better. But, we need to have s plan, regardless of what we want to be. Devonte doesn’t need to start studying for their SAT’s now but when is the right time. Nothing is wrong developing a child creativity and asking them challenging questions. Devonte may not have been asked that if not for he’s parents.

  11. I wonder if she ever stopped to think that the people might be saying her son looked athletic. Thinking a black child will be a baseball player is the exact opposite of racial profiling. She probably meant the fact that he was a young boy with no physical defects and didn’t wear glasses. He looks like he should be playing sports based on the way people think about young boys in America…

  12. What a great kid. Thanks for writing this. As a Portland resident, I can tell you with some degree of certainty that the comments were racially charged. Oregon has a terrible history of racism. And even if they were only gender based, they are still offensive. Don’t make assumptions about the inner lives and dreams of anyone, a child in particular, based on their appearance.

    • There is two ways you can interpret `They all do`. Black children or children in general. Who knows what he really meant. Being judgemental makes you blind to the actual facts. We can all jump to conclusions very early and think that we are right. We can be stubborn and never be wrong. Or we can analyse closely the moment and ask a simple question to understand the answer to eliminate that judgement.

    • Thank you, Carolyn.
      So many of the perspectives taken on what happens here, there, and everywhere in the world come from a particular culture one comes from or lives in. Unless you know the specific cultural temperature of the location, one is really just blowing into the wind.

    • So what if people are stereotyping? People do that. To assume that someone is a terrible racist or sexist because they make an ignorant comment perpetuates hate! Get over yourself & cut people a little slack! Because they stereotype in comments like this does not mean they are hateful of bad people. Those people hopefully learne something.

      You yourself seem to be stereotyping w your comments about Portland. I’m relatively new to Portland, but I take things as they are. People are people. We are all imperfect & hopefully learning & growing. But to get so offended when people may make ignorant comments w no ill intent is worse then they are! Learn to let it go!

      I’m tired of people being so hyper sensitive & looking for racism or other offenses when none is meant! Is there actual racism? Yes, of course there is. But just stereotyping is not the same as racism w bad intent. We all come from various backgrounds where we may have been exposed to a lot of stereotyping. If people are willing to learn & change, that is for the good! So don’t write everyone off that doesn’t fall into your own ideas of the way people should be!

  13. My son is Asian. People have a really hard time believing that he dislikes science and math….but you should see him play basketball! Of course, someone commented that he would need growth hormones to be any good since as an Asian he is short, without ever seeing him play.

  14. So what’s wrong with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”? At age 68, I have less time than Devonte does to answer the question, but I’m still trying to figure out the answer to the question. Devonte’s is probably the best answer yet!

    • Do you know Steve Nash, one of the greatest basket ball payers & short!! Tell your son to look him up, I’m pretty sure Steve had the same doubts or was questionable about his ability to play basketball.

  15. Seems like that young boy has more wisdom and intellect than either of those grown adult grocers.

  16. Hello I’m a 6’7″ 300+ dark skinned Blackman , I can speak two other languages and my hobby is reading comic books , reading about technology and advancements in science .

    All my life I’ve heard comments about playing sports .
    When I choose my first sport it was Fencing, track & field shot putting.

    I wasn’t much of a basketball player but I was a reasonable of at football but it wasn’t my passion.
    I enjoyed the arts like playing guitar due for my love of listening to thin lizzy, In living Colour , Jim I Hendrix and my hero PRINCE!.

    I wrote poetry
    I wrote and still write sci-fi stories .
    But my passions was never into sports , people would literally objectify me as some big muscle bound jock who should run to the pros.

    It was constantly annoying hearing people wish they were my height .
    Believing height or size was the ultimate reason to be a athlete.
    Not knowing of the everyday struggles .

    I know the frustration of this kid , I’ve been hearing it since 11 years old.

  17. Goonies never say ‘Die’ !!

  18. Great story ruined by her account of the “racial stereotyping” that Devonte suffered. Really? Some innocent comments to a young boy about baseball and soccer? Two sports that children of all ages and races in this country are involved in large numbers. Sadly its things like this that contribute to the racial divide that occurs in this country.

    • Sherri Sanders // November 29, 2014 at 8:27 pm // Reply

      You missed the “they all do” comment. That one statement speaks volumes! But you go ahead, keep ignoring, dismissing and sticking your head in the sand. That’s what contributes to the racial divide in this country!

      • Give it up for just a little while, Sherri. Your own preconceptions, voiced repeatedly, prevent you from just observing, trying to absorb and conceiving of a fantasy that such a quote (meaning blacks, boys, children, or …?) might NOT be what what you’re sure it IS.

        • Sherri Sanders // November 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm // Reply

          Why should I “give it up”. Since you are so enlightened do tell what should have been absorbed from that statement. I have had 54 yrs to observe and absorb and in my experience what people say is what they mean.

        • I guess I’d have to ask you T Bouts how much time you have spent trying to understand the race issue. How much research have you done on the subject matter?

      • So what? People stereotype. You are also. You seem to think that those people are terrible racists because they made those comments. People stereotype Whites, conservatives, & others. We all grew up in a background that was not perfect. So maybe we picked up some stereotypes. Learn to differentiate between mere ignorant stereotyping w no bad intent or bad feelings toward the person & actual hateful racism!

        We need to cut each other a little slack & not assume someone is a horrible racist because they stereotype like this. It is very common especially for Black kids to be into sports. Look at the NBA. It’s all out of racial balance!

        We have enough racial division w out looking for it where it doesn’t exist! Hopefully those people who were stereotyping learned something & next time won’t be quite so quick. But what harm did they do? The young man handled things very well! He has a wisdom that adults could learn from. Both those who were stereotyping & his Mom who also was stereotyping them for stereotyping her son. Fortunately she held off & didn’t come in w some out of place defensive retort!

  19. Yikes, another white person trying to save a black kid. I feel for this kid. One advantage of having black parents is that our kids end up understanding blackness, black history and how things are for black folks in society. White parents are unable to provide this important piece and then we end up with “white” black kids who have absolutely no understanding about anything to do with being black.

    • No More PC BS // November 29, 2014 at 10:15 am // Reply

      This is a joke, right?! This kid’s black ‘parents’ were druggie criminals who taught this child to be just like them at the age of 4, yet you somehow think he was better off with them?!

      All White People understand “blackness”. There is no way NOT to do so since it is shoved in our faces constantly. We understand that your “culture” and “history” is to whine about slavery, tell everyone that you are ‘entitled’ to sit on your butt and not work because The White Man ‘owes’ you, and that you people are allowed to break whatever law you want because you don’t live by ‘The White Man’s Rules’.

      You want to know why so many White People adopt black kids? It is because the foster care/adoption system is LOADED with black kids whose black parents are either in jail, dead, or just don’t want to raise them. The ONLY chance these black kids have is IF a White Person is kind enough to foster or adopt them! Otherwise, they will live the gangsta lifestyle, turn into thugs, and be dead within a few years of turning 18 (if they make it that long).

      The ONLY reason why this young man has turned out to be a decent, upstanding young member of society and not a ghetto beast is BECAUSE he was adopted by a WHITE FAMILY who TAUGHT HIM RIGHT FROM WRONG.

      Go back to your ghetto. Your welfare check is waiting for you.

      • So you believe that black culture is nothing but “gangsta’s” and “thugs”? Not blues, jazz, the music that makes you move? The Arts? Fashion? Nuances black culture added to American English?All black culture is to you, is a negative.

        I don’t agree with what the comment you replied to stated, but you will not demean my culture. My black mother raised me to become the young man I am today, she struggled and sacrificed for me like any other mom would.

        I know you don’t believe in politically correctness as stated in your name, but there’s a thin line between edgy and uneducated.

        • Very well said! It wasn’t that he was adopted by White people that gave him hope, but that he was adopted by caring people who are letting him be himself.

          I would bet that they also are exposing him & their other Black kids to those who are Black.

          & as his Mom says, they are fortunate to have him. Yes, obviously it took a lot of lev & patience to overcome his very deprived & rough beginning, but it seems like he is a very bright young man w some real inner strength. He already shows more wisdom than the adults around him.

        • DONE with black BS // December 1, 2014 at 2:34 am // Reply

          “Music that makes you move” ROFLMFAO. Too funny.
          “Arts and Fashion” So you believe dashikis, lycra, fake plastic talon fingernails, gold teeth, and orange weaves to be fashion. And there are no good black artists, let alone great ones.
          “Nuances blacks added to American English”….Yo uh gotz ta be wiggin! ebonics dont adz no nuttin ta no Anglish uz axe nebody.

          ALL black “culture” is ghetto thug. You beasts do not get your way then the riots and looting starts. You sit in your ghetto hovels until you burn them down over some BS excuse then you demand that we, the decent taxpaying hardworking White People, rebuild you so you can start the cycle of welfare/riot/loot/assault/violence all over again.

          My Christmas wish is that every last black in America (even half breeds) would get on the next boat back to Africa. The USA would be such a better place without you feral apes destroying everything you touch.

          • Not every black person feels the white man ‘owes’ anything. Not everyone understands other cultures/races. Not every black person is sitting on their butts, doing nothing. Your forgetting that black ppl did not start the riots, looting & setting blgs on fire. After slavery, blacks tried to go to school, work, eat @ restaurants w/ white ppl, etc. That’s when whites starting rioting against blacks, burning their homes & churches. Oh by the way, their are plenty of black parents adopting & raising black children. Have a nice day!

      • You are dismissed // November 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm // Reply

        BULLSHIT !!! Do you know how dumb you sound? Stop acting as the White man is the solution to everything! I’m black and I was raised by a black single mother. I have never been to jail, I have a damn good job, starting my own business and I am working on my 3rd degree. STOP LYING THAT THE ONLY CHANCE A BLACK CHILD HAS IS IF A WHITE FAMILY ADOPTED THEM ! Hell if you want to get technical about it majority of the world’s mass killers, serial killers, school shooters and domestic terrorist were raised by a WHITE FAMILY ! There are good and bad in every race ! Please explain why there are so many white kids in the foster system? Hell slavery built this country and your but benefited from it! You need to step out of you trailer park and quit kissing on your sister ! You do know that the ghetto is where Jews live right? Your dumb butt can’t lie and tell me that every black man that you have met was a thug or gangster ! I know your dumb a$$ see black people at work daily ! P.S. White folks receive just as much welfare as blacks do !

        Welfare Demographics
        Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
        Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %
        Percent of recipients who are Hispanic 15.7 %
        Percent of recipients who are Asian 2.4 %
        Percent of recipients who are Other 3.3 %

        Welfare Statistics
        Statistic Verification
        Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute
        Research Date: July 8th, 2014
        Welfare is the organized public or private social services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups. Aid could include general Welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits. The Welfare system in the United States began in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. Opponents of Welfare argue that it affects work incentives.

        • You’re right, this country was built on slavery. But also keep in mind that the Irish were slaves as well, in the SAME extent as African slaves. Apparently not important enough to be in American history books, but just as relevant to the Irish. Feel free to look into it. The English monarchy annihilated our country and caused a mass genocide of the Irish people. We were sold cheaper than African slaves and bred with African slaves to be sold with a higher price since darker skin brought more money at auction. My great grandmother was a child that had been “bred” through this very process. Irish slaves were sent everywhere by the English. Australia, Barbados, Jamaica, the colonies… wherever the monarchy and Oliver Cromwell felt they could dispose of us.
          The only place a child has opportunity for success in life is with parents who care. Race plays no role in being a good parent. Being from a “white” family, I can assure you, that white parents don’t guarantee a positive upbringing. After my mother passed, I lived with my father. An abusive drug addict. I was put into foster care and very grateful for the amazing people who cared enough to make a difference in my life. Thankfully I was smart enough not to let the negativity surrounding my father and that overtook our lives for 3 years after my mom’s passing, destroy the work my mother did to raise us properly. The people who guided me in the years I was in foster care and group homes were of all colors and were amazing people.

          • Rose- it wasn’t the same the sheer numbers alone discount your assertion and more importantly, the Irish could/can assimilate, so the evil continued. That’s not a difficult thing to understand is it? I would suggest that you evaluate why you want to diminish the horror of the Black experience. That’s how we get to the bottom of this.

        • You are right that it doesn’t take White parents to raise good kids. A great example of that is Dr Ben Carson. Raised by a Black Mom w a 3rd grade education, in inner city Detroit, she rode herd on her 2 boys, stressed education & they both turned out well. She must have been an incredible woman!

          But 1 thing you overlook w your statistics. That is the % each of those groups are in the population at large. I’m not sure the Black % of the population or that of other groups but it is way less than Whites. So the % of Black people on welfare is much higher than the % of White people.

          Of course part of it is the neighborhoods & what people are exposed to & the quality of their education. Unfortunately there are still disparities.

          Obviously it’s a lot tougher for a single Mom to raise kids by herself.

          Hopefully all kids will have those in their lives who believe in them & help them to achieve theor potential!

        • DONE with black BS // December 1, 2014 at 2:55 am // Reply

          “Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %”

          blacks make up a mere 12.85% of US population yet make of 39.8% of welfare recipients.
          blacks have the highest abortion rates.
          blacks have the highest HIV/AIDS/STD rates.
          blacks have the highest rates of convicted criminals.
          blacks have the highest rates of gangmembers and activity.

          All you have to do is watch the daily news to see where yet another black has shot/stabbed/violently attacked/raped/murdered someone. Every riot in the last century has been caused by blacks because they didn’t get their way.

          blacks need to return to their mother land of africa and leave the rest of us to live in Peace.

      • Really? The only way? Because I was raised by Black parents, went to college, volunteer constantly and now make six figures. I am the norm in many families, not just my own, and I will be the norm moving forward. YOU just haven’t seen us yet.

        Equality for some has only existed for 2-3 post-Jim Crow South generations. My grandparents were adults when Jim Crow was lifted. Some of their children didn’t go to segregated school. My mother was one of them. Colleges and universities were finally forced to accept Black students rather than prohibit them as they had done in the past. I, a woman in my late 20s, am the FIRST to grow up with equality. My parents would give me the world if they could afford it, but the generational accrual simply doesn’t exist. They’re not drug addicts or criminals or violent crazies. They’re good people with big hearts who have instilled the importance of education, diplomacy and kindness in me. That’s what they had to pass on and that is not a crime. I grew up lower middle class, but being poor is not a crime.

        I have earned everything I have by working twice as hard and accepting that that is just life, right now, but it won’t be that way for my grandchildren. I have to deal with people like you because I have to deal with their perception before I even interview for a job. We get your BS character assessment and who are you but just another person?

        You don’t know what it is to be the game changer for the next line. To sacrifice or go without dinner because your niece needs something or to live in your old car because dorms are too expensive. Or to eat packages of condiments because you chose textbooks over a meal plan. THOSE are the decisions the game changers have to make for the next generation. Those are the decisions children keep to themselves because it would kill their parents who try their best.

        You are actually the opponent this child will face, with your generalizations and ethnocentric views. You can’t see him as a person first and anything else second.

        I have absolutely nothing against White people who adopt Black children. Any child that is adopted by a loving, supportive adult regardless of race or sexual orientation has received a gift. Family is a gift. Love is a gift. It is MY generation that fully recognizes this. My generation that will actively usher in acceptance, love and peace. My generation that innovates and gives quietly. My generation that will make good on the words of our forefathers. My generation that will creep into the backwoods and bring about a change. You’re just old news. We’ve already seen what you can do before and it had never done anyone any good.

      • You should both really consider the message Devonte is bringing to the world. It’s not about race. Continuing to think so is the problem.

      • Quite possibly one of the most racist comments I’ve ever read.

      • hey pcbs you are just another crazy racist – read about how your country was founded, how it was built, and how it’s still being run, even with a Black president – racism will outlive all of us – and while I say that, I am brave enough to say that it is unfortunate that this young man will not likely experience the benefits of a father figure in his life; instead we just have to agree that the confusion of being raised by two homosexual women is better than his former life experiences – I pray for Jesus to continue to watch over this child as I pray for a safe return to real and true morality in this broken country and this fallen world – now’s a good time for all of us to return to God’s law as it is written in the KJV of the Holy Bible; we all still have a chance for redemption … hate the sin, not the sinner … pray for all God’s children …

      • What an ugly comment! I should know better than to read the comments section when I take something positive from a story about a young boy refusing to be stereotyped. You are worse than the person to whom you are replying! One can take issue with her comment without taking it where you did. You’re just showing your sickness.

      • This shows how much of an IDIOT!!! you are.”

        You wrote:
        The ONLY chance these black kids have is IF a White Person is kind enough to foster or adopt them! Otherwise, they will live the gangsta lifestyle, turn into thugs, and be dead within a few years of turning 18 (if they make it that long).

        Whites ARE NOT the only chance for blacks in the systems. Many blacks foster and adopt black kids. The only difference is blacks (and other races) DO NOT PARADE them in front of cameras, on TV, and walk around cheesing like Whites LOVE to do. Black kids are nothing but ZOO ANIMALS to you. Save the animals; save the black kids. You are a joke.

    • What did “blackness” ever give this poor child except drugs, guns, violence and abuse? Some heritage! Why didn’t his black community step up for him when they saw him being abused?

      And now this kid is himself and no one else. He was very clear about that. Somehow I think he won’t let you dictate who to be either. He is in control of his own life and identity now, and he has his loving white parents to thank for that. Live with it.

      • MD – it is people like you that Devonte must fear. In your statement you point to his “blackness” as being the reason for his problems. You are the threat, the kind of white person who believes that his being black will lead to his downfall — unless a white person somehow intervenes. I feel sorry for this kid because when the “real” white world confronts him, his kind and wonderful heart will be crushed. Because the truth always hurts. Sad.

        • No, I do not point to his blackness as being the reason for his problems. I point to his abusive environment as being the reason for his problems. And social justice warriors like yourself would rather leave him rot rather than let people of the “wrong” skin colour give him a decent life. Shame on you!

    • How dare you assume this. My niece who is mixed race by the way is laughing at your comment right now. Auntie, he must be so damn stupid I know our my roots and history. She is 15 years old and man bet she knows
      more than you…..

  20. What I love about Devonte is that he cut through everything else to bring us to what really matters. People and relating to each other as such. Showing compassion and love to cut through pain, strife and fear. Devonte is living as he spoke of; to help and to inspire. I am grateful that he has loving parents who have been good stewards of the beautiful gift they were given and that they did not let what others think stop them. Do not lose the message in the debate.

    • Mary, Blacks do this all of the time. We wouldn’t be able to keep our jobs, we would be enraged all of the time. Devonte is just being a black person in America. We don’t write blogs about the dumb things that people say to us daily. Its the norm.

      • Why is it that every comment that I read, your reply follows promptly after? Rise above it. Stop complaining; it’s raising your blood pressure and not changing anything. Prove them wrong, or right, whichever the case may be, with your ACTIONS. As a black female, I can honestly say that you are making us look petty and stupid. Love is all that matters. These comments ruin the inspiring, simple point that was made by the story teller. I have so much hope in my heart for this young man. Given the opportunity, I would adopt a child in need of any race. Humanity is being lost, and people like this young man are going to help us find it again.

  21. Raichaun Brown // November 29, 2014 at 7:57 am // Reply

    OMG this totally made me cry. I don’t how many times people like to assume things & place you in this neat little box along with every other person they think should be there. I never met this kid but love him & can tell he is surrounded by love & encouragement.. So awesome!!!

  22. His black mother riddled him with drugs in utero and his upbringing to age 4 was full of
    Neglect and abuse. His adopted mother has given this beautiful child the light and love he needed to shine. Inspiring

    • You bring no joy whatsoever but instead suck the joy from this story with your insertion of the phrase, “His black mother”- as if no white parents have issues with addiction or neglect their kids. The is a great story about what the power of love can do. Your comment added nothing inspiring to this story.

    • Did you really need to add ‘black’ mother? I’m sure that was obvious in the story.

  23. This is Devonte’s moms account. I wonder if the elderly man and cashier would have a differing version. I do believe this is a special boy who carries the weight of larger and looming issues on his shoulders. I hope it is truly his own message he shares, one that he really believes in. And to the poster who claims a white woman can’t raise a black child… shame on you. His alternative (read: bio family) was a disaster. Hopefully you have adopted black children in need so you can show us all how raising black children to understand blackness is supposed to be done. I’m preparing to adopt a nine year old Hispanic boy. Should I reconsider because I don’t understand ‘Mexican-ness’? Ridiculous. How about we’re human and that’s enough? Maybe Devonte and his mom are really on to something?? Yes, I believe they are. Devonte, you go on and show the world what it really means to be authentically human. You carry your message and stay strong young man. This is your torch.

  24. A wonderful story about a strong young man raised by two amazing parents. Hugs to you ❤️.
    Now, the comment about their son being a ball player wasn’t intentionally racist, ignorantly presumptions perhaps but not racist. However friends, the moment he thought it to be amusing young Devonte could have wanted to be a doctor, only showed he had a preconceived notion of the limits of african American men. He isn’t racist he just old and seriously ill informed about the Greatness, you proudly call your son.

  25. Remember, someone, somewhere in some corner of this somewhat big world, is out there crying if you’re unhappy and is happy if you are! And you know who that someone is! ..

    While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. there were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.

    Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

    One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

    As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

    He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

    “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

    To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

    Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
    “It made a difference for that one.

    Once, on ancient Earth, there was a human boy walking along a beach. There had just been a storm, and starfish had been scattered along the sands. The boy knew the fish would die, so he began to fling the fish to the sea. But every time he threw a starfish, another would wash ashore. “An old Earth man happened along and saw what the child was doing. He called out, ‘Boy, what are you doing?’ ” ‘Saving the starfish!’ replied the boy. ” ‘But your attempts are useless, child! Every time you save one, another one returns, often the same one! You can’t save them all, so why bother trying? Why does it matter, anyway?’ called the old man. “The boy thought about this for a while, a starfish in his hand; he answered, “Well, it matters to this one.” And then he flung the starfish into the welcoming sea.

  26. Thank you for bringing this boy and his journey to light.

  27. I know this is supposed to inspire us by the bravery of this young man and his fight against the obviously racist old white man, but I find it rather sad. As presented in the article it is plain here was an opportunity once again lost in the sea of self righteous indignation and misinterpretation. The old man was just trying to connect with a kid. Instead of a polite “I’m not much a ball player, but I bet you were” which could lead into a chance for the elder to pass on a bit of his history, the opportunity was lost to bigotry and racism. And yes, lesbians and blacks can and do indulge in their own bigotry and racism too. And it is evident here in a touching story that placed the blame on others for a situation that they created from a simple comment that normally brings folks together. Shame.

    • Sherri Sanders // November 29, 2014 at 8:16 pm // Reply

      What’s sad is that you dismiss another person experience. The initial question the old man posed was not the problem. When he added the statement “they all do” clearly shows his intent. Ask yourself who is “they”. The shame is yours for placing the blame of bigotry on the victim in this case. None the less this young man handled the situation brilliantly.

      • its the authors story so it played out for her how she saw it, but my thought was they were referring to “the all do” as boys having nothing to do with race. However when your very sensitive to racism or in search of it you can find it in any and everything I suppose. Just like if we feel someone is speaking or thinking ill of us then we get a bit blinded and one sided in our thinking. I hope the mother was teaching her son to look for the goodness in all people instead of racism in the elderly.

  28. As the mother of an young boy, I also had over heard these same comments directed to my son. My take on this exchange is more gratitude that an older man would see and engage this young boy. So his conversational assumptions were off. Sports and young boys is a pretty safe assumption. Throw away the outrage over gender or racial discrimination. Be thankful that the previous generation still cares enough to try and engage. After all, isn’t that what you are trying to teach your son?

    • Why isn’t it possible for her to do both? Why is she supposed to ignore stereotyping because this man was attempting chit chat? Sounds like his tone bordered on insulting- should she pretend otherwise?

  29. Devonte is precocious and wise beyond his years.

    He said he wants to “Be himself” and not someone else. You can only be yourself now, and that is exactly what he is doing. His words and actions are an example to others if they are open minded, open hearted and open handed.

    Very few individuals ever achieve such wisdom intellectually, let alone experience it existentially in their lifetime for even a single moment. As Desiderata said: “Be yourself.” And as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “Know thyself and to thine own self be true.” No greater wisdom and spirituality is possible in the universe.

    Given his clear view and enlightened vision, nothing is likely to distract Devonte from being his true self, whatever that may be from time to time as he travels on his journey through life.

    The message Devonte courageously lives and compassionately shares with all of humanity is the truth of being yourself and allowing others to be themselves in unity and harmony.

  30. What an inspirational gorgeous, intelligent young man. His parents have brought him up amazingly well and are also an inspiation. I was bought to tears not with sadness but with joy. Me, a Caucasian with the most 3 beautiful mixed race nieces you could ever wish for and as god as my witness will never ever allow anybody to question the colour of their skin. What this 12 year old child has done is teach us adults that humanity is so important. I would love to give you a hug Devonte, so I send you a magic hug all the way from London, England. Peace and love. Xxxxxxx

  31. Cassandra Taylor // November 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm // Reply

    A drop in the ocean. Until Jen and the rest of the white liberals refuse to stop helping blacks with the soft bigotry of low expectations, nothing will change.
    Keep voting for more welfare and the full elimination of fatherhood. And then you can keep saving broken kids and feeling like you are doing something good.

  32. This is called ” Saving our World one Child at a time.”

  33. Firstly, Devonte (I hope you get to read this) you are one awesome, dynamite, intuitive, giver. Please do not let anyone or anything cause you to be jaded or complacent! I am so proud of you for what you have done in the face of adversity.

    To respond to some of the responses, the world treats different people differently. I do not get the same courtesies as White females; more often a door will be held open for them than for me. Once, my supervisor asked me if I was sure I have a college degree after she saw it listed on my resume and after she hired me.

    White people will approach me and try to speak in their best Ebonics & Slang lingo. Because of my skin color, I am supposed to be fluent in Ebonics.

    Mexicans in the state where I currently reside, are always shocked when I speak to them in Spanish and tell me that my school was good to teach me espanish and it is really good because I don’t have an accent. So, when I explain where my family is from then I get, “Oh, jes, I see now, you look like you are from there.”

    When I first moved to Portland, one of my coworkers (Filipino male) asked me how I liked living in North Portland. I told him that I did not live in North Portland and his response was that he thought we all lived there.

    White people sometimes automatically start talking to me condescendingly or with an aggressive attitude and when I respond, they tell me that I talk very good and when I respond with, “Why wouldn’t I,” their response is that I just don’t talk like the others.

    Blacks ask me if I am mixed because I have an odd skin tone or because of my “good” hair and why I talk White.

    This did not happen in Europe, or South America, but it happened in Asia (their caste system is atrocious) and the state where I currently reside.

    As a child, people were constantly talking to me about marriage and children. Why, because as a non-white female, this is all that the future holds for me or as a female this is what I am supposed to want?

    To No More PC BS: Do you really believe that you can speak for all White people and that you know everything there is to being Black and do you really think that those are the only reasons why there are Black children in Foster Care? All Blacks in this country do not have the same culture, are on welfare, are uneducated, do drugs, have numerous children, are involved with gangs, refuse to work or go to school, and deliberately violate laws, or think the world owes them something other than respect. All White people do not understand Blackness just as all of your ignorant diatribe does not make it true.

    When there are assumptions based on skin color, it is racist (whether that was the intent or not) and people are entitled to be offended; when assumptions are made based on sex, it is sexist, etc. The intent is not what is important, what was said or done is. Do you think a judge would not sentence a drunk driver because the driver said he did not intend/mean to kill the pedestrian with his vehicle? People should not assume things to begin with and should treat each person and situation as an individual matter. I was raped and stalked by a White man, should I hate all White males, avoid all White males and assume they all what to rape me or should I treat them as individuals and give them the benefit of the doubt.

    • My black African (recent immigrant) wife gets some similar comments. She has a Bachelor’s degree (Religion), an associates degree (Business), and a technical certificate (Auto Repair). She speaks at least three different languages. She has a higher level of education than me a white American male! When I first met her she had been in the US only a year and had had no exposure to racism. In her home country blacks are the majority and are in charge. Whites are uncommon although generally stereotyped as being rich. Since coming to the US she has faced discrimination in the work place (other employees filed lawsuit against same employer and won), had a friend insulted because he was at a restaurant with a black woman, and encountered plenty of idiots with ill conceived notions concerning race (note to all blacks: Idaho not a good choice for living place. More rednecks per capita than anywhere.) One of the most difficult things I have had to witness is the changes my wife has gone through. She was once so innocent but her exposure has made her much more cynical and suspicious and seeing racism everywhere.

      My wife is better educated than any member of my generation in my family. 2/3 of my step-sisters failed to even graduate high school. I will have my bachelors this next year. We have never had any form of government aid. Most of my siblings wouldn’t survive without it. I work in high tech and have many coworkers and friends who are black. Some play sports some don’t. Most were former military. All are well educated. My wife’s sisters are an RN and an LPN (both degreed nurses). Virtually every black I know shatters the stereotypes so many try to apply.

      As a side note there is a higher concentration of blacks in North Portland for the simple reason of that was at one point the only place they could legally live (circa WWII). Prior to that blacks were not allowed to live in the state period. Obviously this is not the case anymore. None of the blacks I know do. Oregon may be very open minded now but that was not always the case. We have come a long ways but obviously there is still more road ahead to overcome all transgressions of the past.

    • I’m glad so many people like to point out that white people don’t know any thing about being black. I completely agree but then I read further and it seems like black people know everything about being white. You stereotype when you take a comment and automatically assume some sort of racial undertone. If you are curious about something, ask!! It is that simple. I love how one person writes a long lengthy statement about how she encounters racial profiling. Then she goes into detail about whenever she meets somebody who is Hispanic, she begins to speak spanish. Isn’t that racial profiling as well. It isn’t a white problem or a black problem. This is a human problem. Every culture experiences racial and caste problems. Another problem with human beings is the need to always assume. While reading this, I can’t help but think of the movie “Anger Management”. In the beginning of the movie, Adam Sandler Bourdain a plane. While flying, he asks the flight attendant for headphones so he can watch a movie. After being ignored he reaches out to tap her on the arm, she over reacts at him and then a black Air Marshall comes over. Adam Sandler says “I don’t know why you people are acting this way.” The Air Marshall goes right into “You People” and “I won’t take any racism.” There is a dilemma in this country and racism is slowly going to the wayside of the old south. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. Based on my perception, which doesn’t mean it is true, I have witnessed it a handful of times. But it wasn’t just from whites. White people, Black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, and really all ethnicities can have racism. It will truly be a great day when equality truly does exist on all fronts and I do believe we are not that far off.

  34. I love to see happiness in people hugs kiss telling someone how u feel Davonte is living proof that in the right place you can change thing change because the people that come into your life jen and sarah you are a blessing to adopt devonte and his siblings loving someone the right way will make a difference devonte and his siblings never had that kind of love till they met jen and sarah god is good

    we speak this kid got the best in life when

  35. Julie Ransom // November 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm // Reply

    Wow!!Can I be Devonte when I grow up…?? I may be 46 but he is older than all of us… He is wise beyond his years and I am so thankful for his message as we all have so much yet to learn about loving each other. He is an amazing example of determination and I am thankful for hearing such a positive message… to Live, Love, and Pass it On!!

  36. Sheila Sullivan // November 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm // Reply

    Very touching. It’s heartbreaking when you think about how all these children must be feeling during the uproars in Furguson and elsewhere. I’m so happy to be reading positive messages. This as a result of a 12 year old amazes me! Thank you, Devonte. I hope you receive a million hugs for each one you give. Nobody deserves them more than you. You ARE a shining star!

  37. Although the poster did not explicitly say that the grocery store cashier and the bagger were Caucasian, if they were indeed Caucasian, then the comments made are a prime example of racial microaggressions. Basically, the grocery store employees were unknowingly putting Davonte in a box, assuming that all young African American men aspire to be athletes. The bagger then implied that Davonte was strange because he didn’t fit into the man’s stereotypical ideas regarding African American males and sports. For example, the bagger chuckles stating, “Right?! Never. They all do (play sports).” In addition, the grocery store employees likely believed that they were flattering him by saying that he was built like an athlete. The intentions of an individual committing a microaggression are often good, they may even believe they are complimenting the person. However, they are often unaware of their unconscious expression of bias, due to their group membership and privilege. I believe that in order to be aware of and identify microaggressions, one must work diligently to raise their self-awareness. I will be the first to say it is not easy and involves a great deal of work, but it is SO worth it because it helps in furthering personal cultural competency.

  38. When I saw this Beautiful teary eyed child hugging a police man I started to cry. People are out of control and losing their prospective on life. Things HAVE to change and NOW not later. Listen to the Innocence in this child’s eyes and you will see a NEW WORLD. He says Peace and Love for everyone. ((((HUGS)))) back to him from me straight from my HEART. I love you as so does GOD himself.

  39. “What a fantastic story. We could all learn much from this young man and his mom. Thank you for sharing this. I feel lucky I stumbled upon it”

    Dittos

  40. I love this family so much! Thank you for the happy tears. Too many bad stories, so glad this was good. Its like the moms were able to turn the life on in that little man, and in turn he will be/is great!

  41. It is a very sweet story. But is amazes me how people see race as the basis of so many comments. My best friend when I was young was 6’3″ at the age of 12, everybody would ask him if he was a basketball player or even asked him if he picked apples for people. He was white….no problem! But if he were african american, big problem…. we have to stop seeing everything as a bad thing and start to see most of it for what it is….Small Talk.

    • Thank you, grip!! Hypersensitivity abounds and PC has been carried to the point of absurdity. So, when people remain quiet because they never know what will offend, they are then snobs or bigots. I am sick to death of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” in this culture.

  42. Barbara Estenes // November 30, 2014 at 1:30 am // Reply

    You are an awesome young man! I believe you will accomplish great things in your future!

  43. kathleen kelley // November 30, 2014 at 1:31 am // Reply

    Kudos to Devonte’s parents and friends for raising him in such an enlightened loving way. Although it is Devonte’s true nature shining through, it is the loving environment that nurtures him that lets him be himself and a blessing to all. He (an his moms) are a gift to the world. Thank you Devonte for inspiring us and for showing us what love is.

  44. All this woman is trying to do is give legetimacy to her perverted definition of a family.

  45. and now, this same child is all over the American press, exchanging a hug with police officer during a protest over a racial shooting by police in a town accross the country. This is one seriously cool kid!

  46. Devonte don’t ever let anyone keep you for doing the good that is on your heart. Lady From Tampa, FL

  47. This mom has done right…good for you! And hope this little man never changes <3

  48. I like how the mother in this situation assumes everything anyone ever says is racist or stereotypical, wake up, the whole world isn’t racist, just in your eyes it is.

  49. Robert Kriegar // November 30, 2014 at 6:32 am // Reply

    After reading all of the ugly, racist comments about Ferguson these last few days, I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this. Beautiful

  50. Beautiful, provocative, and inspiring. We project onto others that which exists inside of ourselves. Thank you!

  51. Bjorn Thisell // November 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm // Reply

    I´m sitting and reading the news on the other side of the world, in Sweden. In or local newspaper I see the fantastic photo of Devonte & Bret. I decided to see if I could find out more about the story,
    Now when I read the story on “Paper Trail”, my computer is “wet” of tears after reading all incl comments. There IS hope!

  52. Hope will never be silent.
    Harvey Milk

  53. First step will be to stop calling people by their ethnic background, whe they are born and raised in the USA or Canada. Why not call them Americans or Canadian. Or in this case since there are pictures of him, just call him “this young boy”

  54. I hope this kid will run for President. We need more like him in office and our world would be a better place to live. He is a shinning spirit of God in him. All my Love to you sweet heart. You keep rolling and teach these people some thing about true life.

  55. Apologies if this has already been shared, but I’m wondering if Devonte’s moms share their adoption story anywhere? On a blog, maybe? I’d like to follow their story, and I’d like to share it on my blog (I adopted three black children from the foster children and write about foster/adopt/race/mental health issues). I love what I’ve read here and the recent Devonte/police officer hug photo. I think people like Devonte and his family do change the world.

  56. For those responding in fury to the post about “white parents raising black kids” come on!!! Its a troll. A black person wouldn’t even say that. It’s so obvious….but now you’ve resorted to racial division and tit for tat which was the aim of the troll….smh. it’s so evident how racially unstable this country is. It takes one comment for people to put all humanity aside and start going at each others throats. We take this lovely story and ruin it with comments. And to those of you that dont think those comments are racist I’m going to assume that you are not a minority and you live in a bubble. People need to learn to recognize trolls. They always say something so extreme and egg on negativity…those people should be ignored. That was most likely a white person stirring up racial division. I believe I can speak and say that considering his story…any one of any race is giving kudos to his wonderful mothers! You guys are a blessing to those children and I truly believe they will bless you back greatly!

  57. Great, another White Savior Complex story, just what we need more of during these hard times of continued anti-Blackness.

  58. What a sweet, brilliant, dear boy – sending a hug from CT!

  59. I know what he’s going to be, the one who’s going to inspire the all of us to prejudice and racial sterotyping Throughout the US and the World. I really beleive that.

  60. Bravo to this little man. What an inspiration. I applaud his mothers as well. He must have been born with that heart of gold, but it looks like his adoptive mothers must have helped it shine. Finally, something positive and worth reading!

  61. Great story. Sad to see how many folks here need an explanation as to what was going on at the store. Makes me think that maybe the reason people fail to recognize their own racism is because they truly don’t understand what it actually is.

    And they looked at the little white boy with the Bank Of America hat and said “I bet you are going to be a bankster when you grow up!”

  62. Good Lord!! What the hell is wrong with some of the people posting here?? Just be happy for this child rather than frigging argue about the color of his birth mother and/or adopted mother, and the dumb ass people in the supermarket, what color skin makes for a better upbringing…WHO CARES what anyone says anymore..the world/society is, what it is and I doubt it will EVER change in fact, I believe the more so many people try and change the world by protesting, political correctness, new laws about what you can and cannot say, suing eachother left and right over someone saying ‘fag’ or ‘nigger’ or whatever else people cry, scream and yell about..LET IT ALL GO…my God is everyone stupid? The bigger the stink I would think the higher the shit pile…take a lesson from this young boy..he apparently didn’t give a damn about what these people were saying and he left with a beautiful smile on his face…

  63. I just want to say thank you for posting this truly remarkable story. I think we all can learn a little something from Devonte, and his parents. The compassion, and joy this young man has is infectious. I carry myself much in the same way as this young man, but if i can be half the man he is, well, i’d be happy with that.
    Thank you for this. Thank you.
    -Matthew/Moose

  64. There are no “Black” and “White” children – ONLY CHILDREN! You rock Devonte – be an inspiration to the world and do something really big – you have it in you.

  65. June C. Alexander // December 1, 2014 at 2:49 am // Reply

    Thank God for this wonderful child and those like him…filled with love and hope and wishing only good things for us all. Oh, what a lovely heart!!! Bless you and your wonderful mothers!

  66. I am humbled at the privilege of being brought to tears for such an amazing young man — and his mother. Devonte, you are more powerful than you know.

  67. #barf this article makes me sick. These comments do too

    • SashaWhite. I would love to know what it is that makes you sick? A child standing up for himself? Two obviously caring and devoted parents?

  68. I am proud to see this article over and over again. Thank you to his parents who have placed this young man in an environment of love, learning and courage. Thank you so much. I look forward to seeing what this young man will do in his life. I have a hug for you also.

  69. I read your story and it moved me emotionally. From tears to the big wide grin on my face as your sweet boy stepped into his power and OWNED his future! I just wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you. Thank you for responding the still tiny voice inside your heart as your cried in desperation and fear that night you adopted those children. You were sent to them and they to you. NO other family could have done for him/them what you all have done. So thank you for facing your fear and doing it anyway. The world is going to benefit immensely from your decision. God bless you al.

  70. AgentRovocateur // December 2, 2014 at 2:31 am // Reply

    Reading is fundamental people. Your comments reveal who you really are. The ethnicity of the people in the grocery store was never revealed to us. Devonte’s mother said SHE was angered by their comments; BUT she said nothing. She was confident in her parenting skills and allowed DEVONTE to interpret the nature of the conversation. Based on Devonte’s response why would you assume she was trying to push an ethnicity based agenda? Wouldn’t Devonte’s response reflect that alleged paranoia? Being a lesbian raising a Black male child she has every reason in the world to be bitter and paranoid yet somehow she managed to raise this wonderful gift of a child. Stop projecting, own your prejudice and govern yourself accordingly.

  71. Wowee – this has been over-analyzed to death. Two great people adopted a kid that really needed adopting. They are doing great things in his life. He would not have lived up to his potential otherwise. Enough said for crying out loud ….. everyone needs to quit making it a black thing or a white thing and appreciate it for what it is. Humanity. All along the way, ignorant people will say ignorant things and intelligent people will say thoughtful things … get used to it.

  72. It might just be that the elderly man was trying to bridge the gap, as the elderly have zero in common with the youth today. They know nothing of technology which is a new thing. I’m sure “inspiring people” is great but I’m pretty sure that is going to be the guess of ZERO people as a little boy of any color future goals. So maybe sports the one thing that was around when the elderly man was a boy (and the fact he says baseball makes this even more true) is something he remembers and thinks maybe he can try and relate. The same thing is said of to my son a red head pale white and is lean. Now would you prefer that the elderly man say nothing as fear that it is going to be so taken as racists? Continuing the separation? Because that is what happened and this is what happens a lot. ANYTHING can be twisted and it makes people not want to reach out. Good thing that this skewed view is not my own. I can look for the good in the moment cause it wasn’t but 50 years ago that a Lesbian white couple raising 5 black kids would have a hard time having anyone talk to them. America is filled with amazing people. This story is amazing, I love every bit of it and want this kind of kid around my kids. But the story at store is why people don’t talk. Its why the races are scared to reach out. Together we can save the world, separated we are doomed to wonder what if in a pile of rubble and regret.

    PS all of them that LOOK like that probably meant a strapping young lad ,as that is what the majority of parents put their kids in too keep them out of trouble and learn team wrk whether they are white, black, latino, asian, indian, middle eastern or jewish….

  73. I love Devonte’s story, and the story of his moms; but I wondered why the man in the grocery store had to be characterized as “elderly.” It seemed that label was unnecessary. We don’t want people to label Devonte (though of course he became famous because he was upset about something that happened to someone with a particular skin color; there were no protests that day for other victims), so maybe we need to label everyone a little less often, and in fewer ways.

    Also (not relevant here) there have been so many stories about Devonte now, but none about the cop who ASKED him for the hug. Surely he has a story too?

  74. I simply want to say I’m new to blogs and really enjoyed this blog. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your website . You really come with incredible well written articles. Thanks a bunch for sharing with us your web site.

  75. moderated commenter // December 3, 2014 at 5:34 am // Reply

    First, let me say—I believe that contributing to a healthy dialogue on uncomfortable subjects is the most important step we can take as individuals to work toward a cultural shift in thinking that abhors bigotry and champions equitable outcomes for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

    That said, when I see comment sections like this, it’s difficult to discern which comments are genuine and which are simply trolls. Even if, for example, 100% of the comments are genuine, I believe that about 30% of the comments on this article are making that conversation more difficult both online, as well as in person for those who are afraid approaching this conversation will illicit anger after being exposed to this type of anonymous comment section.

    If you are going to have a comments section on these types of subjects, I think it is irresponsible not to moderate them. I’m not suggesting that all offensive comments be removed, as that too hinders the dialogue, but comments that use caustic language that aim to shutdown the conversation rather than add to it should be blocked. The only responsible alternative is to not have a comments section.

    • moderated commenter // December 3, 2014 at 5:37 am // Reply

      Seeing how my comment is awaiting moderation—I stand corrected. I guess what I meant to say is that the moderator is doing a poor job.

  76. too bad this whole thing was a photo op! and his colorblind adoptive parents don’t seem to be able to handle or teach him about racism. everyone praising these types of exploitative adoption stories are sick themselves.

  77. I loved this story! I was so touched by the photo of this little boy crying & hugging the officer! Hope! As the mother of a gay son, which by the way was an important part of the story for me, I was so inspired by the fact that we live in a country that is beginning to accept gay marriage

  78. The Comment “They all do” Simply may have meant “Boys/Kids” not racially as taken..

  79. When I read the story of the policeman and Devonte I cried a million tears. To read all the horrible things that happened in his history makes it even more special to see what a great young man that he is becoming. We need more special hearts in this world like Devonte’s.

    What we need more of in this country is LESS political correctness speech and MORE genuine concern about each other. Be a DIFFERENCE in the battle against racism instead of a CAUSE of the hate that fuels racism. Stop reading so much into a few simple words; they are just words after all. To most adults, boys want to be in sports…most adults watch sports on TV. Sometimes men talking about sports is what brings them together. Just because Devonte doesn’t play sports and has no real desire to play sports doesn’t mean that the old man meant anything racial with his question, it’s just a natural assumption that boys usually like to play some type of sports; it’s kind of unusual when they don’t..perhaps he might want to play music instead. Is THAT to be considered a racial statement? People just need to get over dissecting everyone’s speech and the meaning. If it’s so important…why speculate for days on end…ask them upfront and get over it.

  80. To all of those posting… as I read the comments, it hurts my heart to see the constant racial divide, and complete and clear determination by some to “BE RIGHT”! Our world will continue to be ignorant, racist, and stereotypical UNTIL we all simply put our agendas & useless facts aside & get to know each other, learn, help, & work together to build a better world! We all can be successful & counter the odds… how & who is willing to help is what will make the difference! Stop hating each other. What would happen if we shook hands, had a beverage together, & simply said…” hello”?

  81. From Tears to Cheers: Days Before Christmas

    Days before Christmas, throughout this great land,
    People were raising their voices and hands,
    Protesting violence both here and abroad,
    Crying for justice and praying to God.

    The angels looked down at what couldn’t be righted
    Until crowds of people joined hands and united.
    Mobs at the peak of their anger and grief
    Discouraged the angels with sad disbelief.

    But through clouds of chaos, a prayer was heard,
    As meek as the sound of a sweet baby bird.
    A young boy was weeping and standing alone,
    Holding a sign he had made on his own.

    Watching the protesters walk through the streets,
    He offered “Free Hugs,” as they mocked the police.
    One girl smiled back but was soon pushed away.
    Nobody wanted a “Free Hug” that day.

    As the poor boy dropped his sign on the ground,
    An officer noticed his tears streaming down.
    “What’s wrong?” the man asked him and listened with heart.
    The boy’s deepest anguish had torn him apart.

    He feared police violence he saw on the news
    And longed to reach out, asking people to choose
    To love one another with smiles and free hugs,
    Not shooting and fighting each other as thugs!

    What drew crowds in protest was not the same reason
    The boy had come out, but the holiday season.
    Not angry chanting, but sharing life’s song —
    Gifts of the spirit to be passed along.

    The officer glanced at his handwritten sign,
    And asked for a hug, if the boy didn’t mind.
    They hugged, and a journalist captured his tears:
    Embracing a cop had erased his worst fears.

    The photo went viral, online and worldwide,
    Touching more hearts, reaching deeper inside
    Than hundreds of rioters marching for miles.
    One hug from a boy was enough to bring smiles!

    The angels worked quickly to send all around
    The message of hope with an impact profound,
    Healing division with heavenly grace,
    Humbled by tears on the little boy’s face.

    Encouraged, the boy knew his prayers were heard.
    His friends multiplied, helping him spread the word.
    With “Free Hugs” for Christmas and through the new year,
    The world was their witness that love conquered fear.

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