I have seen a lot of articles floating around since the high profile cases of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown from parents of African American children in regards to what they feel they now have to teach them in order to avoid being killed by police. When reading these, I can’t help but question why is it that this is even a topic for discussion? Why do we now have to include a section of the parenting handbook to cover how to act when approached by an officer in 2016? 2016, not 1955. My father already marched for things like this. Why are we still facing these issues today?
I have a six-year-old son and am about to bring my second into this world in less than 30 days. I look at my son and wonder how is it possible that he could be targeted? He is sweet and kindhearted, loving, and playful. He loves everyone and enjoys playing with airplanes, basketballs, and yes, even toy guns. Then I think to myself, I am sure these are some of the same feelings that the mother of Tamir Rice had when she sent her son to play in the park before being brutally gunned down at twelve years old. I can’t even begin to imagine burying my sons or having to endure such a tragedy as a parent.
In recent news in Louisiana and now Minnesota, I am unsure what the future indeed will look like for my sons. When watching the Louisiana video, it is easy to get upset and enraged at what is seen. I wonder, what led the officer to tackle him in the first place? What occurred prior to this? No one deserves to be killed in that manner, no matter what the situation is, but was there something that could have transpired to change the outcome? I now know that I have to share with my boys these types of incidents and how to handle themselves when approached by an officer of the law – well before the age of 18. And in the recent Minnesota incident, we do not know what was and wasn’t said before the young man reached for his identification. I would hope that he had his hands on the steering wheel and waited until the officer told him it was okay for him to reach for his wallet, but these are facts that we just do not have.
It is sad, angering, and heartbreaking what has occurred recently. There is nothing that can take that away. Watching the 15-year-old son of Alton Sterling break down because his father would no longer be coming home was horrifying. To see the anguish on his mother’s face knowing she could not take away his pain is enough to cause tears to fall from anyone’s eyes. I don’t want to ever be in the position of any of them, so what, if anything, can we do to prevent these incidents from happening?
As a mother, I have to do my job to raise respectable young black men. I have to ensure that they understand that as long as they are black, the obstacles they face in life will be different of other races. It’s just the way it is. I will have to teach them how to handle situations with police, what to say, how to carry themselves, just to make it home safely. I will do whatever it takes to protect my boys from experiencing the same end that so many young men have endured at the hands of those who have been called to serve and to protect.