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, illegal activity he was involved in in the past, illegal activity he was involved in in the present, 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 in a vehicle that was 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.
Peace and Love