Note: I want to be able to boost this post, so it can’t have any profanity in it. This is VERY hard because this topic deserves f-bombs about every other sentence. Feel free to add them mentally as you read.
I believe in serendipity. I’ve been listening to podcasts again lately and while it was never actually a topic of any of those, it’s gotten me thinking again about my son and what it will mean for him to be a black man in this world. So I decided to write this post today. Then, before I sat down to write, I saw this video on a friend’s Facebook page.
I know it’s 5 minutes long, but PLEASE watch it.
I had to close my office door because I couldn’t help but cry as I watched it. The unfairness of it all shakes me to my core. When the one mom says – no one else has to have this conversation with their child my tears became angry tears, because she’s right. I’m sure that parents of kids of middle eastern descent and LGBTQ kids have to have a conversation as well, but I don’t think it’s the same. The thing about those conversations is that they are to warn their kids about the bad guys; about the racist jerk on the street, the homophobic redneck in the store. It’s to warn them against the “bad guys.”
But for parents of black children, most especially sons, we are stuck having to warn them about the good guys. And it is as they say in the video – not every law enforcement officer is a racist; but enough of them are at the very least programmed to “profile,” and enough of the institution of law enforcement is at it’s core racist, that those police officers that aren’t racist are irrelevant. Those bad guys preying on Muslims and the LGBTQ community are generally easy to spot. But you tell me how you tell the difference, in a split second, which cop is a good and honest person and which is a violent racist?
And I am sick and tired of the “I’m not a racist, but” crowd weighing in on this as though they know what they are talking about. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tolerate anyone who pulls out the – if they don’t break the law it won’t be an issue. If they are respectful and cooperated, it won’t be an issue. You are missing 2 glaring facts:
- Even if someone breaks a law or is disrespectful they should NEVER answer for that with their life (barring they are literally standing there shooting people, like bullets actually leaving the gun, of course). No sane, rational person could think that they should.
- You are only able to even think those simplistic “solutions” will fix things because you don’t have to be in fear for your life and you don’t understand what that even feels like. As a white person, there’s basically little to no chance that you will ever be harmed no matter what laws you break, no matter what you say to a police officer. A black man in a backyard with a phone – shot and killed. A black man in a store which SELLS BB GUNS walking in the store with a BB Gun for sale there, shot and killed. A black man stopped at a traffic light who has an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support – shot and killed. NONE of these people threatened the police or anyone else. Barring an unloaded BB GUN, none of them was even armed. Yet – a white man opens fire on the police, killing two of them – taken into custody unharmed. A white man kills 12 people in a movie theater – taken into custody unharmed. A white man murders 17 kids at a high school – taken into custody unharmed. A white man opens fire in a church killing 9 people – taken into custody unharmed and the police buy him lunch on the way to the station because he was hungry, (I REALLY REALLY REALLY want one of those f-bombs right now.)
Statistics show that blacks are about 228% more like to be shot by police than whites. so hey “I’m not a racist”, please STOP insulting your own intelligence, and certainly STOP trying to gaslight black people – this is not their fault. There is nothing they can do to make this stop happening. They ARE NOT afforded anywhere near the same rights and privileges that we have as white people and it has nothing to do with anything other than the color of their skin.
And oh, “I’m not a racist”, in case you were going to go there, do not pull the – “sure it happens sometimes but not all the time and not to everyone, you’re exaggerating to make it sound like a bigger deal than it is” nonsense. I’ll tell you what. Let’s sit down and play a little Russian Roulette. My gun has 6 chambers and 1 bullet. Your gun has 6 chambers and 3 bullets. We fire 3 times – ready, set….. wait, you don’t want to play? Why not? Getting a bullet doesn’t happen to everyone every time. Your just overreacting.
Pull. Your. Head. Out. Of. Your. Butt.
Side note: Any time you follow I’m not a racist/ xenophobe/ homophobe /misogynist /etc. with a “but”, you are the WORST type of racist/ xenophobe /homophobe/ misogynist because you won’t even admit to yourself that you are those things, so you blindly discriminate against people and you will never stop because you don’t think you’re doing it in the first place. What you fail to understand or take ownership of is that EVERYONE, no matter your color, race, nationality, creed, environment, has internal biases. I have them. The are bred into us from birth by the society we live in. The only difference between those with internal biases and that racist piece of garbage with his MAGA hat and Gays Are The Antichrist t-shirt is that we have chosen to confront our own biases, to analyze them and identify them for the over-generalized social falsities they are, and to not let those ungrounded fears dictate our actions. We cannot control what our amygdala spits out at us, but we are thinking creatures who are capable of knowing which of its fight or flight spewing is just a bunch of BS. We choose how we act and what we BELIEVE.
So back to my son.
I’m scared to death. Every day his soft, rounded, adorable baby-ness fades away a little more. Every day he gets taller. Ever track practice he gets stronger and more muscular. And every day takes him closer and closer to the time that is inevitably coming, where he will not always be out with us. He will no longer be the brown-skinned child of that nice white family. He will just be a black kid, and he will have no more privileges, protection, or allowances than any other black kid has.
What in the world do I do??? He’s grown up under the protective umbrella of his family’s whiteness, my whiteness. He’s never experienced racism himself because we are always right there, and he’s never seen anyone experiencing it because it doesn’t happen to us, so he doesn’t even know what is actually looks like. He knows he’s black. He knows that there are people out there who are “mean” to black people (they studied MLK, Jr. in school) – – but he doesn’t come anywhere NEAR to understanding the reality of this world. I know I have to prepare him but I’m not sure how. Right now, he idolizes police officers. How can I explain what he has to know without making him afraid of them, or making him see them as the bad guys?
How can I REALLY make him understand that this isn’t a game, make him understand what is really at stake? My little guy is a total class clown, a goofball. He has trouble taking anything seriously. How do I make him understand this is serious and he needs to really listen, without scaring the hell out of him? I know I am really hard on him about how he plays, and he doesn’t understand it. He doesn’t know why Mommy loses her stuff when he plays with toy guns or pretend guns in the store or outside. He doesn’t know why Mommy practically takes his head off every time when he’s playing, as boys do, and everything is a battle or about fighting – punching that guy, shooting that guy, knocking out the good guy cuz the good guy can’t catch him. He doesn’t know why Mommy gets so mad every time he jokes – I’m gonna steal that car and take it and drive it around and it’ll be mine. To him it’s play. NOTHING BUT PLAY. He literally doesn’t mean a word of it, he’s actually got a darn good moral compass and he knows the difference between right and wrong, play and reality. But to the bystander? To the shop owner? To the police? There are no jokes allowed for black people.
This is starting to keep me up at night. It’s starting making me watch him like a hawk wherever he goes – never taking my eyes off him in the playground even though I never was that tense when he was little. I’m getting nervous when he goes to the bathroom by himself when we’re out – has it been too long? Should my husband go check on him? Did something happen? I’m holding my breathe when he wants to go a few aisles over and grab something at the grocery store while I am shopping. Are they going to think he’s shoplifting? Is someone going to call the manager because an unattended black boy is “wandering” through the grocery store? I find myself being more overt about him belonging to us when we are out – talking directly to him more when strangers are around, hugging him, ruffling his hair…. like, THIS ONE IS MINE IT’S OKAY BACK OFF.
And problem is, that certainly isn’t helping the situation in the long term. But I’m scared. I’m so very, very scared that I can’t help myself.
Dear god, please don’t let anything happen to my baby.