These are two of my sons, Judah and Zion. Adorable, no? Yeah, I think so too. And they are so sweet. Zion loves animals, he wants to know everything about them. And anything that begins with the letter Z ‘My yetter!” Judah is one of the sweetest natured kids on the earth – if someone tries to take something from him, and I tell them to give it back, he’ll say “It is ok, I will share.” He wants to help with every single thing in the world – he’s the first volunteer to do anything, to clean, to help find something.
And someday they will be Black Men. Tall, and strong, with cars and hoodies and responsibilities, and yes, anger. Someday some of you will instinctively think “trouble” when they come down the street, or maybe wonder what they doing where they are. I only have a decade (less, they are six and four) before they are teenagers, and move from beautiful to frightening to many white people – not for what they did, but for who they are. Maybe they’ll make some mistakes. I certainly did at that age. They aren’t perfect now – they won’t be then. But they are so very beloved, and have so much promise.
And then when they walk out the door, I will wonder if I will see them again. I love them just as much as you love your children or your family. They are no more frightening than your sons and daughters and nieces and nephews and grandchildren. And yet they could die because of our fear and our failure. If they are murdered, I could listen to the media say it was really their fault. Sit with that. I have to. Every Black mother has to.
When do my boys with their stuffed zebras, giggles and cookies become something so fearful that they can be destroyed for it?