In the painful aftermath of the terror attacks in Charleston, my soul is in a state of unrest. From the endless stream of unfair convictions, hate crimes and police brutality, the outlook for Black Americans is beyond grim.
But even before the devastating shootings at the Emanuel AME church, I’ve been traumatized by the events of the past few months. When I close my eyes, I find myself haunted by the horrifying video showing the infamous “overly enthusiastic” cop from Dallas targeting Black teens in McKinney, Texas. Or the deaths of Mike Brown, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray. Or the suicide of a heartbroken Kalief Browder after a brutal stint at Rikers Island for a crime he didn’t even commit.
This has all led me to question: Can I raise Black children in the United States?
To be forthcoming, I am nowhere close to having kids. While I think I would love to be a mother down the line, I am not in the camp of people who romanticize motherhood. Having seen friends struggle as teen moms or single parents, and with a sister who is ten years younger than me, who I helped to raise, I know that motherhood is a big sacrifice, however rewarding it is. And as such, it should not be taken lightly.
When I think of the children whose lives are lost in such an unjust and undignified manner to those who claim to serve and protect, I constantly wonder if I could do it. Could I raise my children, who whatever shade of Black they might be, will be viewed as criminals by some for merely existing? Do I really want to tell my future kids to just “keep their head down and do as they’re told” when they find themselves in precarious situations? Do I want my heart to be in my mouth every time they leave the house and might encounter someone who treats them as less than because of the color? Do I want to raise kids in a system that was, from its inception, anti-Black?
The honest answer is I don’t know. Having moved to the United States eight years ago, I have made this place my home. But I have homes elsewhere too – homes that might be a better place for me to raise Black children. Notwithstanding that anti-Blackness is a global phenomenon, there are spaces that are better than others. And for the sake of my future kids, as someone who believes in exploring the world and living where one finds peace of mind, I will be forced to consider those spaces.
Having come here as a foreigner, I confess that, for all its faults, the United States is still a place that gives me hope. I do feel very blessed to be here. But I also know that the world is a big place beyond this country. Perhaps I am thinking too far ahead, and should leave this question raging in my heart alone for now. And while I toil with the choice, I’ll spend my days admiring the countless Black women and men who have raised Black children in a system that is against them right from birth. They give me strength, for I can only imagine the pains one has to endure to see one’s child grow up in such a system.
It is a hard thing to bring a child into the world, but it is especially hard when you know that child will have to face the world in a skin color that is too often despised. Your only hope is that things get better. And that by hopefully loving your skin and advocating for those who are in it, you can teach your child to love theirs too. No matter what the world tells them.