As parents, we worry everyday about our children. Just the regular day-to-day details of raising a child are enough to keep a mother up at night. Imagine adding to that worry, the knowledge that because of the color of your child’s skin, he is disproportionately unsafe in the world. Because of the color of his skin he will always be a suspect. Because of the color of his skin you will need to teach him all manner of ways to survive amongst a society that would brand him a dangerous criminal simply for daring to exist while brown.
This is the reality of parents raising black children in America. And if you think I’m wrong, you aren’t paying attention. #ThingsITellMyBlackSon is a sobering Twitter feed of parents responding to these realities.
You don’t have to dig deep for news that supports this fact. In the last month, an unarmed Missouri teen was shot to death by police – allegedly while he had his hands raised in the air. An unarmed asthmatic black man was put in a choke hold and ultimately killed – again, by police – for selling illegal cigarettes. And a man waving a toy rifle in a toy aisle in an Ohio Walmart was fatally gunned down, yes, by police.
Conversely, also in the last two weeks, an 18-year-old white kid toted an armed shotgun around Aurora Colorado, and argued with police when they responded to a call about and armed man walking the streets. He refused to give them his I.D. He’s alive and bragging about his Second Amendment rights.
Parents are terrified. Of police. They need to teach their kids how to navigate always being a suspect, no matter what they do. This is not okay.
Since we’ve moved to Florida, my black partner has been “pulled over” on foot 17 times. 17 times. That is not an exaggeration – it’s an actual number. He likes to take walks in the evening, and really didn’t want to have to stop that thing he loved when we moved to Florida. He pretty much has, because he’s sick of being questioned every time he leaves the house and regarded as a criminal in his own neighborhood. I don’t want to raise my kids in this bullshit, racist state – but where do we go? This is the kind of thing that happens everywhere – and we’re going to have to teach our kids how to navigate it.
Because this is the reality we live in. Next time you hear the words “post-racial America,” notice the color of the skin of the person who believes we exist in one.