There are so many things that I cannot wait to teach my son: how to spell his name, how to read, how to ride a bike and how to throw a football. There are so many things that he learns on his own each day that simply amaze me. Has any mother ever been so excited about a baby picking up his own pacifier?
It seems that every time I turn on the news there are reminders that I will have to teach my son so much more.
I will have to teach him how to value himself as an African American man when his country does not value him at all.
I will have to teach him how to talk to police officers when he is pulled over, or randomly searched, in a way that gives them no cover at all for killing him.
I will have to teach him how to walk through our neighborhood, our world, with his head held high – but also in a way that will not antagonize crazy people with guns.
I will have to teach him that when someone insults him or scares him or yells at him to turn down the music in his car he needs to get out of the situation quickly – because in this country you are allowed to murder a young Black man.
I will have to explain to him that almost 60 years had passed between Emmet Till and Jordan Davis. I will have to try and tell him that things have gotten better… although his life is still in danger, every single day, because of the color of his skin. It is more dangerous for him to live his life in the US from the age of 13 to 19 than it is for a soldier to do the same number of years in the Army.
My father is 85. My brother lives in California. My nephew lives in St. Thomas. The vast majority of my relatives living near me are female and so I will seek out Black men to try and help guide my son through the life threatening maze that is America. No matter how much his father and I love him – we will not be able to prepare him for this on our own.
How do you explain to the love of your life – to the beat of your heart – that the country he calls home would shrug at his death, would feel safer at his imprisonment? How do you instill a sense of self worth, let alone patriotism in the face of the facts?
Today I do not know. Today I am lost. Today all that I can think about are the mothers – the ones who are grieving a loss, the ones fighting the Justice system and the ones like me who are terrified of becoming like them.
|17 years old|
|14 years old|
|17 years old|