This morning we woke up to another murder involving police and an African-American man who could have easily been my husband, sons, brothers, father, cousins, uncles and best friend. While my husband and I take an active role in raising our boys, I shed many tears and my heart is crushing with emotions. Boycott they say! Rally they shout! Arm ourselves they scream! But, what I want to know, the burning question for me is “ What do I tell my sons?"
How do I explain to my sons that if they get stopped by the police, the same agents charged with serving and protecting them, may very well end their life unceremoniously in the same amount of time it takes to reach for their wallet? How do I explain to them that even when innocent, they are considered a threat and considered guilty until proven otherwise?
How can I explain to them that even though your teachers, community, and church hold you in high regard, that they can be erased because of someone’s interpretation of a look or a hand gesture. And, despite being equipped with the moral fortitude to know right from wrong, it could very well not be enough to save their lives. All because their Blackness has been assigned a penalty of death too often carried out by a law enforcement officer and co-signed by an American culture that simultaneously covets and despises their Blackness.
My babies, my sweet precious babies.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. No trial. No judge. No jury. Just repeated shots until their blood stains the ground of some cold American street. My heartbreaks, again and again with each story. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Anthony Nunez. Philando Castile. The reality that we could leave our homes and never return because of a traffic stop or any other incident involving police is difficult to wrap my mind around.
This morning, I grieve because, as parents, we worry about our kids doing drugs or hurting themselves unintentionally by horsing around. However, I am at a loss for words on how to prepare my two babies, my sons, on how to successfully negotiate interactions with the police in order to preserve life.
I beg of you, please tell me how to shield my Black boys from a life that doesn’t snatch their bodies without cause. I wish I could implore every police officer to not harm my oldest son because his heart allows him to care for a homeless persons in such a way that he is willing to give up his peanut butter and jelly sandwich so that person won’t be hungry. How do shield my youngest son, whose hugs melt you with all of the strength he can muster from his tiny frame. Sadly, I cannot. Instead, I watch story after story detailing more lifeless Black bodies snatched by a careless police officer’s bullet. So, when people say they do not see color and we are all the same: I know that on some levels that isn’t true. And, we can debate on how to stop this incessant killing of civilians but, right now and in this moment, I’m just a mom of two Black boys that needs to know “What do I tell my sons?”