This was my first Facebook post the morning of November 24, 2014 which was the morning after the verdict was read in the Michael Brown case.
I didn’t know what to say that night. While I was highly disturbed that there would be no punishment for the crime, I wasn’t completely taken aback. In a previous career, I was a Litigation Paralegal so I know just how quickly things can turn in the courtroom. I know that case outcomes can be fair and I know that they can be blatantly unfair.
When George Zimmerman was found to be without fault, I was numb. I was sickened. You see, my child walked in shortly after that verdict was read with a hoodie on. After that verdict read, Facebook, Twitter and every other crevice of the internet was filled with people wearing hoodies, people condemning the murderer, the act and the whole idea behind the fact that Trayvon was targeted because he “looked suspicious”. Even as I write this, my heart is just pierced with pain for his parents. He went to get Skittles and something to drink but didn’t make it back home.
When Michael Brown was shot, it hit close to home because I have friends who live in that area and their sons are young, Black men. I can’t un-see the image of Mike’s mom walking up and down that street, just overwhelmed with grief, knowing her baby was under that sheet. I can’t get the image of his dad screaming at the gravesite out of my head. If the sight of the man’s excruciating pain did not touch your soul, you need help.
My son is enrolled at the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff and he is just under 2.5 hours from me. His dad and I had gotten him a car when he was a Junior in high school and it was our intent that he use it until he graduated. It wasn’t in the best condition but it would have gotten him from Point A to Point B. Hold up either one of your index fingers. That’s the number of times his dad and I agreed on anything except the fact that he needed a more reliable car. He got him one last July and while some of the stress was relieved, my world pretty much comes to a stop when he leaves to come home and when its time for him to go back.
When it became clear that Will would be going to UAPB, I drove the route so I could:
- time the trip
- know exactly what towns he would drive through
- determine if he would have good wireless coverage on that route
There are a few stretches of that route when he has NO wireless coverage. I cannot reach him and he cannot reach me. We both have iPhones so he shares his location with me from the time he leaves the campus until he pulls up in this driveway. You will never know how nerve-wrecking it is when that little icon isn’t moving. I know exactly where it stops and I know how long it should take for it to start moving again. I have pounded in his head that he must stay at or under the speed limit. My sister reminds him constantly to keep his music down. Yeah, I know White parents warn their sons about the same things, but see, if my child is stopped for either of those things by the wrong officer, the likelihood of him being maimed or killed is exponentially greater. The fact that it could happen in one of the little towns where he can’t get a cell signal makes me dizzy.
He had gone to Allen shortly after last semester ended and on his way here, he was pulled over for speeding. He was indeed speeding so I had no problem with him being stopped. Most people are scared when they are stopped by the police. My child was petrified. He said he had never been so scared in his life. He said the officer made him sit in the back of the squad car while he ran his license and the plates. He was the officer was very nice to him and they talked about football but he was still terrified. He said all he could think about getting shot or beaten. Since my health scare, he does everything he can to keep my stress level down. He didn’t call me when the officer sent him on his way. He didn’t call my sister or my nephew. He just wanted to get home.
I’ve heard some Black parents say they dress their sons in button-ups, ties and slacks to go to school. These are middle-school kids. Stop that. Even if Will wasn’t in college, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t stop my kid from wearing hoodies. I’ve heard some Black parents say they’ve stopped letting their sons go to parties because they’re afraid of what will happen if they come home too late and are stopped. I’ve heard some Black parents say they won’t allow their sons to get tattoos. My child got his first one at 15. I paid for it. I’ve heard of some Black parents forbidding their sons to grow dreads. My child had a BEAUTIFUL set of locs before he chose to cut them. He’s growing them back, by the way. I’m not going to stifle my child. I’m not going to have him redefine his individuality because of a racist subset who decides that stereotyping is the way to go.
I realize that some White people may possibly see a tatted thug (that word runs me SUPER hot) when my child enters their presence but here’s what I see:
I am not without fear. Neither is he. My child faces potential adversity from a variety of sources, not the least of which is Black-on-Black crime. He could just as easily be shot over a stupid pair of shoes or his iPhone as he could be by a trigger-happy cop. My solution? I keep my child covered in prayer. I keep him before God. I ask that God shield him from any hurt, harm or danger and that he causes none of those things to another. He is not immune but he’s most definitely covered.