Okay. I had to post this…
My son wanted to walk to the store and I panicked. I didn’t want him to leave the house.
I am usually upbeat about things but as of this day, I am a scared mother of a Black teenage boy.
It feels like it’s open season on Black young men. Or Brown young men. Or men who fit any stereotype of a minority group.
Yes, I am talking about another dead teen who was killed by police.
it has been a hard few years to be young and Black in this US of A.
I dropped my favorite cover artist from my FB friends list because after the Travon Martin verdict, he posted something to the fact that all young Black men need to taken out into the street and shot. Hey… I have a young Black teenaged male… so my child should be put down like a dog before he hurts someone? That was his reasoning. He and his sister could not even acknowledge that if you liked the verdict or not, a child lay dead and that a mother’s arms are now empty. I got more insults piled on so I walked away and cut that tie. Wishing death on anyone is wrong let along a whole group of people.
And then there was the McBride case… and the poor child with a pump gun in Walmart in Ohio, and now Mike Brown.
Sometimes I wish that the whole fucking world was beige. That way you could take the color out of situations and can look at people on their individual actions.
Racism, prejudice, any of the isms really… it is all ripping at my soul.
If you think that Racism is gone, ask one of my bestest buddies, name redacted cause I don’t want to pull anyone into my mess of emotions, about our trip to Cracker Barrel, about how the clerk was so interested in following me around to ensure that i didn’t steal anything, they didn’t notice her following the clerk even closer that she was following me.
Or how about the time a few months ago when I was in NY and Company when the tiny 20 something Asian manager followed me around asking to hold the clothing I wanted to buy to make sure nothing slipped into my pocket. And when i let her have it, nicely this time, she blushed, stammered something about store policy, and rushed away… sending another clerk to follow me.
I guess I have it better than some though… no cop has pulled a gun on me since I was 14. I fit the description of a 40 year old woman at the time and the best my school and the people I talked to could tell me was get a badge number or the number off of the car next time.
The first time I was called a nigger and harassed by some dudes in a blue ford pick-up truck on the eastern shore of Maryland, I was five and sitting in my mother’s lap at a table at a rest stop. They called us names, they pulled to a stop and hopped out. i remember sitting there as my mother clutched me tighter and the two white guys, dirty denim jeans, one was a blond with longer hair than the other, and white tank tops… they were red in the face and screaming and then my father and brother came running from the restrooms and the guys fled. I asked my mother what a nigger was… she said something ignorant people called others. I was not content. When we got home, I looked it up… we had a set of World Book Encyclopedias… and I cried cause then i knew that most of the world would hate me just because I existed, because someone thought it was a good idea to steal some dark skinned people, rape them to increase the stock, and stick them in the states for more of the same while they got free labor.
And now, I have that same heart stopping fear I felt when those guys came racing towards me and my mom whenever my son wants to leave my site for a moment.
Sad, isn’t it?
This country has shown us that if we are not dancing monkeys… you know… good at sports or entertaining, or doing heavy dirty work, then you are about good as dog meat.
And this attitude has spread to other parts of the world… I know this because one of my Egyptian friends, after a few years of knowing her, told me that in America, Blacks are considered lazy and thieves, that we don’t bathe and that we are not to be trusted. But I wasn’t like that so I must be an unusual Black.
I wanted to cry and yell that I was the Average Black… but what she saw on the news and in the media since she was a child had more sway. In her eyes, I was exceptional.
Like a very good trained dog.
WHen I first started doing lectures and teaching classes on wold building, no one believed that I was Stephanie Burke. I had managers triple check my ID or other writers refuse to believe I was me until I started speaking. I handled this like it was an everyday occurrence. I have tried to debate with even fellow authors, my contemporaries, and the minute I made a valid point, I was told to calm not and not be so aggressive… aggressive while sitting and sipping hot tea… without raising my voice, by asking a question. I guess they expected me to start screaming and turning over furniture like in a freking movie.
Black, Exceptional for my kind, Aggressive… hunted. Man, that does make me seem like some exotic dangerous animal. And now you can add scared to let her son go to the store.
When is it going to stop? I can no longer explain ignorance away. My kids are far too good at research and questioning things to ever let a watered down version of life slide, and i have never offered it to them. You know its bad when you have to explain to your son the proper procedure as a Black being stopped by the cops… and now add to it that it probably won’t save your life if you are in the wrong area.
I have to tell my daughters when she goes out with her White friends to be aware that the store security may try and stop you because they think you are up to something or have stollen something. So far she has been stopped and searched din a Walmart for carrying a purchase that was too big for a bag while holding a receipt in hand while trying to leave and by a bunch of cups who ran up on them in a public park, insisted they were doing drugs, cursed and harassed them for just sitting at a table, and then when she gave her age and demanded that they bring a female cop to search her, they backed off.
And now with Mike Brown… unarmed… media black out… riots… another animal put down, some will say and have already said.
I just think of his mother… who probably was just as scared as I am to let her son out of her site… but the difference between us is that my son came home. Her’s never will again.