Kelly and Will Boone live in Madison and are raising their son, Treyson, during a time when parents still have to have tough conversations with their Black and biracial sons about the stereotypes they’ll face and the barriers they may encounter in their daily lives, just for being a person of color. Kelly says, “I’m a white person, and I should be listening right now” — which she notes includes gaining an even deeper understanding of what people of color face.
By Hywania Thompson | Photography by Shalicia Johnson
“I am well aware that this is more of a time, for someone that looks like me, to listen — and therefore, only very humbly offer what I can,
regarding my evolution with understanding my whiteness,” says Kelly Boone. She is white and married to her husband, Will, a Black man. The couple have a son, Treyson, who was born in December 2015.
Like any parents, the Boones worry about their son. “Will’s biggest concern is that he has to have the talk with our son that his mother had with him,” says Kelly.
Will recalls his mother telling him: “William, if you’re in the car and you’re pulled over, don’t make any sudden movements. Just do what the officers say. Leave your hands on the steering wheel and follow directions.” Will says it saddens and angers him that he will have to have the same conversation with Trey.
Kelly is an educator who grew up in Madison and went to college in New York, where she met Will. The couple married in January 2014 (BRAVA featured their San Diego wedding). Will is a City of Madison firefighter, assistant football coach at James Madison Memorial High School, owner of TopSpeed Prep Training Academy and co-owner of CPR business ThinLine Safety. Will also works with Receiver Factory, a company that trains high school, collegiate and pro receivers.
The Boones have many friends who look like them — mixed couples raising biracial children. While that has been nice for them in their “bubble,” outside their circle and neighborhood is where it gets tricky. Kelly recalls a time when she and Will went to play golf at a course outside of Dane County. When they arrived at the clubhouse, all eyes were on them. “I had to check my privilege hard (the privilege to be oblivious to my surroundings), to recognize his uncertainty in where we were and whether his presence would be welcome there,” Kelly says. It’s things like this and other microaggressions that make her concerned for Will when he’s out in the world and not in uniform.
Kelly says she’s come a long way in her understanding the differences between being born white and Black in this world, and feels better prepared to have difficult conversations with family and friends. She says, though, that there are more important voices — like her husband’s — to be heard.
“Because Madison is so progressive, some of us get away with thinking racism isn’t a concern here,” says Kelly. “I need to understand that my experience of this city isn’t the same way that Will experiences it. We need to hear that.”
Read more from our Solidarity in the City article here.