My Nephews Are Not Safe

Desmond Tutu quote

Today, I am so thankful that I am not raising sons.

My heart goes out to all of those mothers that are raising Black boys. It has become all too common for us to hear about another senseless murder of a Black man at the hand of those given the responsibility of PROTECTING and SERVING.

While I breathe a sigh of relief about not having boys, my brain immediately zooms in on my nephews.

One a rising sophomore in college and the other an outspoken three-year-old. As an auntie that strongly believes in social justice and civil rights, how do I teach my nephews to “speak up and speak out” while ensuring they will not be gunned down simply because they had the audacity to have a voice. The answer I immediately come up with…NOTHING! So then I think, what can I teach my nephews that will guarantee their safety even if they are not fighting for social justice and civil rights. The answer again…NOTHING! There is absolutely nothing I can teach them that will guarantee their safety because they are black boys living in a society that does not value their lives.

Each time we hear about a shooting, the focus always seems to quickly shift from the horrific act of murder that occurred to a dismantling of the victim’s character.

We hear about the victim’s

  • lack of employment,
  • his criminal record,
  • his marital status,
  • an illegal activity he was involved in in the past,
  • an illegal activity he was involved in in the present, and
  • all of his children that he wasn’t taking care of, and
  • so on and so on.

And as we partake in this character assassination, it somehow makes us fall into a state of complacency where we simply accept that black boys/men are being murdered by cops for no reason at all.

Even if Mr. Sterling were selling CDs illegally,

what did he do in that encounter with law enforcement to justify his son having to live the rest of his life grieving the loss of a man that had value to him?  What did Mr. Sterling do to justify the police attacking him like he was a rabid animal before sticking a gun to his chest and blowing him away?

What did Mr. Castile do to justify his four-year-old having to watch her daddy be slaughtered like an animal?

He was the driver of a vehicle being stopped because the taillight was out. He told the officer that he had a gun. He had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

As I think about these latest incidents, along with all of the others we have seen over the past couple of years, I sadly accept that my nephews are not safe at all simply because they were born black.

Their lives can be taken because they moved too quickly.

Their lives can be taken because they moved too slowly.

Their lives can be taken because they spoke too loudly.

Their lives can be taken because they spoke too  softly.

Their lives can be taken because they talked too much.

Their lives can be taken because they talked too little.

Their lives can be taken because…

It is my hope that we will finally wake up and do the hard work of dismantling institutional racism instead of taking the easy way out and continuing to dismantle each victim’s character. That is the hope for my nephews and all of the young black boys living in our communities.

Much Love,


Published by Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

10 thoughts on “My Nephews Are Not Safe

  1. Well put. Very scary indeed! I pray for my 3 boys all the time. We have overcome. Really? Still so many hurdles….Injustice is real.

  2. I dropped Pey off late at daycare because I wanted to hold him a little bit longer this morning… These are my thoughts daily.

  3. I still cringe when I hear about these young black men being killed because I am the mother of an adult son, a grandson, and several nephews. I pray for God to watch over them every day and for them to not be stopped by some frightened, poorly trained, trigger happy policeman.

  4. I have made every effor to make sure that my son and my youngest nephew did not get caught up in the traps of the inner city. They are both respectful and resilient young men who help with their grandmother and have never been in any trouble but I find myself interrogating them and smothering them because I cannot stop stressing and worrying when they are out of my sight. I’ve given the bad crowd speech and the police officer speech , but is it enough? NO! They have the target from the criminals and the one’s that are suppose to protect them on their back. I accomplished absolutely nothing at work today… My heart is so heavy and my head is throbbing. Staying woke is not enough, we need to wake up and make some serious changes .

  5. I love this! This hits home for me in more ways than one! I was blessed with a son after 17 years of trying to have a child and the thought that no matter what I teach him or how hard I work to provide a safe environment for him, someone that took an oath to protect and serve could take his life regardless of the circumstances! This has left me feeling so helpless as a mother! I have participated in protests, I have prayed for my son’s safety and yet I have been unable to stop crying for not just the families that have lost their love ones but for my own son. How do I explain these things to my son and why do I have to take away his innocence?

    1. I was so excited to see that you were at the Black Lives Matter March this week and I could feel all of your pain as I watched you cry during the rally.

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