Make eye contact. Don’t resist.
The conversations are uncomfortable but Black mothers are doing their best to equip their Black sons with keys for survival. Though, proven futile, its still necessary.
Black boys and men face inherent danger because of their skin color. And at any given moment even the most innocent Black boy can become a threat. Black children aren’t given grace like their white counterparts. Tamir Rice was only 12-years-old when he was shot and killed by a cop in his playground. Trayvon Martin, 17, was simply walking home from the store, where he had grabbed a late-night snack, when he was stalked and confronted by a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman. Mike Brown was 18-years-old and soon-to-be graduate when he was gunned down and left in the streets for his blood to drain from his body. The common denominator — Black skin and a White person who felt threatened by their Blackness.
The anxiety of sending our Black boys into such an unforgiving world has left mother’s of Black boys facing unrelenting anxiety. Here’s how they’re educating their sons about what’s going on.
I have been telling my son his entire life that he is a Black man not a n*gger. I want him to understand that he is greater than what the world may day or see. Now he is a 21-year-old senior in college who is very woke. I worry because he is America’s nightmare, he is an educated black man. And while I never want him to bow down to anyone, I urge him to be mindful of his actions because it could be the difference.
I am honestly speechless. It’s scary. I’m afraid. I don’t know what to tell them. But daily I speak to their strengths, I tell them how strong they are and how intelligent they are and how handsome they are. Maybe subconsciously I’m speaking to their greatness daily bc I don’t want how anyone may treat them to dim their light. I would die if anything happened to my boys the thought alone is too much to bear. To my Black sons, I love you so much!
Unfortunately, I tell my son, my six brothers, and countless nephews and cousins to comply. I’m an attorney so that contradicts my training in the constitution. My advice though comes from a place of love and selfishness because I want them to live. It has no basis in law or fundamental fairness. I want them to live to see me represent the injustice if it happens to them. When they tell me they want to fight for justice, I ask them are they willing to die for it. Then I beg them to comply so they can just live another day so they can be here when I fight for their rights and not have to do it posthumously. Its sad but it is my painful truth.
Right now, as a 7-year-old, I tell him that he is Black and beautiful. He is a leader, strong and smart. Using the mindset of speaking life into him so he knows where he comes from.
He is learning about slavery, our people’s history, heroes and how people did not like our skin color. I am careful because I don’t want to teach hate but I want to make sure we have conversations making him aware of who he is and what that means to the world as a Black kid. It sucks because he is innocent but ignorance and racism will never let him be seen in that light. So I advocate, teach and will transition him to heavier topics as he grows to be a young man. Lord keep your hands around my child as he travels this earth creating his journey. Amen (my prayer).
Honestly all I’ve been able to do so far with my four-year-old is install in his mind that he is Black. But I’ve begun to reflect on how my parenting is impacted by the events occurring. The days of me telling him to use his words when he was having a tantrum because i knew he would never be given the space or grace to express his feelings. I also know that his IEP will be viewed as a weapon instead of an accommodation. It’s scary times and why i started my podcast because I know I’m not the only one who feels this way
My son is five and autistic which is very scary for me because law enforcement is not equipped to deal with people with special needs. I tell him every day that he is smart, strong, brave. I tell him that he is handsome and to be aware of his surroundings. I teach him to make eye contact as much as he can.