On Being The Mother Of Black Boys In America
My oldest son is almost 13 and he’s starting to go places with friends and no adults. I worry every day when we send him out of the house. Because he’s sweet & smart & funny, but he’s also black and male. We know we cannot keep locked up in the house forever, and so we’ve done our best to prepare him. But…but I was 12 when a cop harassed me and my friends and called me a nigger, my husband was 13 when a cop beat the hell out of him for something (still unknown), and then walked away. There are news stories all the time in America about police brutality. Very often the recipients of that brutality are black and male and young. Sometimes they die from that brutality. And that’s just the police. That doesn’t even touch the lynchings that can still happen from private citizens who might or might not face any consequences for their crime.
I worry about my oldest more right now because he goes out alone while my 5 year old does not. But, my youngest has special needs that affect his ability to communicate. I can’t even express how scared I am at the idea of him going anywhere alone. But he will, and I just have to hope he doesn’t get hurt by a cop or some random asshole with a gun who’s bought into the scary black man trope. Everyone wants to talk about black people & crime as though we invented it, but look at this latest story out of Florida. Imagine you’re Trayvon Martin a 17 year old black kid walking home from the store, and some stranger follows you down the street in his car. He’s not a cop, and he’s harassing you. How do you react? What happens when you indicate you will defend yourself & he kills you? Does anyone arrest him? Does anyone care that you just died for not letting a stranger invade your space? Does anyone even think you deserve justice?