Over the last couple of weeks, I have been in a funk. Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you know about the recent death of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. George was murdered by a police officer who put his knee on his neck and held it there for approximately 9 minutes. Breonna was murdered in her home by police officers afterwho raided the wrong home. It’s sad to admit this, but since the murder of Tamir Rice, (an 11 year old kid playing with a toy gun in a park and was shot and killed by a police officer) I have become almost numb at hearing that a black person was killed by the hands of police. I stopped talking about it. Trayvon Martin was a hard blow. Michael Brown hit below the belt.Tamir Rice was the nail in the coffin. It solidified my decision to be a stay at home mom. My husband and I say all the time “We all we got!” So one of us had to hold down the home, and the other had to bring home the funds!
I’ve been asked by so many times recently, “Have you had the talk with your boys?” The answer is yes. If you are unfamiliar with the talk, the talk is the conversation black parents have with their children about how to handle themselves if they have an encounter with the police. This conversation is not specific to any gender/sex. I was given the talk when I was 12. It is forever instilled in me. My parents had 3 girls. They always told us, the goal is to get home. Luckily when I was old enough to drive my parent’s had a bag phone that they kept in their car for emergencies. The rule was if I was pulled over to call my parent’s first, find a well lit area, and then pull over. We even had contingency plans, and had played out scenarios. But that’s for a different blog.
Having this conversation with my boys is hard. The first time I had the conversation with my son he was in 2nd grade going to 3rd grade. He went for ice cream with a friend. They pulled up to the Dairy Queen, and his friend did not want to get out. His mom asked why? His friend replied, its black boys hanging around, they might hurt us.” The mom was mortified, and replied “AJ is black, do you think he’s going to hurt us?” His response was “No, he’s a different black.” Of course the mom and I had the conversation, she explained where he heard that from. But it was still hard for me to explain to my son what those words meant.
I had to explain to my son what racism really was at age 7. He thought me asking him, if a friend at school was white or black, was racist. He would say, mom it doesn’t matter if they are Peach or Brown, it’s racist to ask that. My response was “No sweetie, it’s ok for me to ask, it’s not ok for me to judge them because of it.” I don’t think he quite understood. He was 7! Children at that age react off of feelings and emotions. If you make them happy, it doesn’t matter to them what you look like, what color you are, or what you are shaped like.
I’ve been perplexed in how to have the conversation with my boys about what’s happening in the world. For the most part we sensor the content in which they are allowed to see. They don’t have social media. They are allowed to watch Youtube kids, but we found out there is tons of content that slip through the cracks on that app. We don’t have cable, and we pay the premium on anything to keep us ad free. So I was super surprised on yesterday when AJ came downstairs to show me his new NBA 2K avatar. He dressed him in an “I CAN’T BREATHE” shirt. He was so proud! I asked “Do you know what the means?” He replies “Yes!” He goes on to tell me the full story. He even said that this isn’t the first time it happened. I was shocked! I mean, we weren’t trying to shield him from it, but we were waiting to talk more about it after things had calmed down, and I wasn’t so emotional about it.
He hadn’t seen the video. Only pictures of the cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck with his hands in his pockets. I asked how it made him feel, and he said “Sad.” He thought the man didn’t deserve it. I asked him did it make him afraid of the police? He said “I feel like I should be, in case one of them don’t like me, but I’m not really afraid.” I asked what would make them not like you, and if they don’t like you, it is still their job is to protect and serve. His reply was “I mean right now, I don’t think a cop would kill me, because I’m a kid, and I’m really nice. The only reason they could possibly dislike me is that I’m black. But we don’t live in a very racist neighborhood. I mean some people are. But not people like cops, and firefighters.” I immediately went into history 101 with him. I told him about systematic racism, white privilege, and everything in between. I didn’t even tell him about Breonna. My husband ran in the room and was like what are ya’ll talking about it. Sounds scary. He made a joke, and gave me the chill out look. So I calmed down, and started writing. Here’s my heart to my Black Son.