The year of 30 ushered in a certain heightened awareness of 1. My biological clock and 2. The possibility of birthing a Black man when I do decide to have children . Now, that’s not to say my finances, career and love life weren’t at the forefront of my thinking because they’ve always been. The year of 30 though…it made me think long and hard about my future children and what was in store for them. Most women, White, Black or in between, daydream about what their children will look and sound like. What their quirks will be or what type of personality they’ll have. Some think of how they’ll educate them (me) and how to make them well-rounded and empathetic (also me). On the contrary, most, if not all, black women wonder about the safety of their children, especially young boys, in addition to all the other motherly thoughts. This is something that, in America, I find is unique to only Black and Hispanic women. That’s true for those of us who are mothers and those of us who aren’t yet. It used to be that our brothers, uncles and fathers were our main subjects of concern. Now, that circle has expanded to include women, boys and even girls as young as 12. My thoughts didn’t stop there though.
I wondered, “What can I do to counter this?”. What would be the proper course of action for lil old me? What was within my scope of power and abilities? So. Just last week my students and I organized a first responders assembly to show our appreciation and gratitude for those whose duty it is to serve and protect our community. We hosted police officers, firefighters, and soldiers. Although the assembly was rooted in remembrance of 9/11 and those who fell on that day, it was also about cultivating safe and friendly interactions between my students and their community police.
It was my idea, they loved it, I loved that they loved it, and it was all gravy. That was until one of my students pulled me aside and asked why we haven’t acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement. My response was simple–“We will”. We most certainly will create a safe space for them to voice their outrage at what more and more feels like the slaughter of our people. Yep. We will. But I had to temper my emotions and if I’m being honest, I know it’s best for them to do the same.
Suffering a fatal gunshot wound at the hands of a police officer is a reality for Black children. It always has been–even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Even when you’re a child, playing alone in a park in broad daylight. Even if it feels like we’re villainized from birth and are herded into stereotypical categories that don’t even speak to our actual personalities or upbringing, we are the ones that must be decisive in our response to these matters. The burden falls on us to dictate how these interactions will go–it’s a matter of life or death. This is not to say that we can’t be mad. Hell, it’s not to say that we can’t be furious. It’s not to say that we won’t power through other avenues to receive justice and equality (salute to Black Lives Matter and other movers, shakers and policy makers who fight for justice daily). But we have to be smarter than ever when it comes to our children–our future. This is why it is so important that we do our part in reverse community policing.
We gotta do our part to introduce police to our children on our terms. They should know and be familiar with our children. They should know that 13 year old Tyre was at a STEM school, that he was a boy’s boy, into bb guns, and sports. That he had hobbies that are consistent with the hobbies of millions of boys of ALL races. That Tyre and others that look, sound and act like him are human. They should know that he had his whole life ahead of him. While many of our blue brothers are in fact, doing the work, there are many of them who are not–so we have to. We have to bridge this disconnect.
I could go on and on about this. These are just a mashup of my immediate thoughts on this.I welcome thoughts and comments below. Solutions too. Sigh.