Every single time my four teenage sons walk out the door of our home — the only home they’ve ever known, the place where they broke piñatas on their birthday, the place that they’ve been loved and cared for all their lives — it’s like my senses become hyper aware. Every honk, circling helicopter, ambulance siren and police officer driving in our neighborhood is deafening to my ears. Sometimes there are gunshots. Sometimes there are firecrackers going off. It makes me jumpy. Those are my babies are out there in the world — my heart walking around outside of my body. They’re no different from Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown or Tyre King. It feels like all the things their father and I have taught them to protect themselves — don’t break the law, don’t be in places you have no business being in, don’t mouth off, stand still, don’t be aggressive, keep your hands out of your pockets, remain calm, etc. — are no longer relevant.
It won’t guarantee their safety. It won’t keep them alive.
They still have to figure out how to navigate this world, a world that can sometimes hate their skin color. A world where bullets go flying in your direction before you can even speak.
My son and his best friend are always skating around the neighborhood, and when they take off down the street, I can’t help but feel a tug of anxiety in the pit of my belly. These beautiful brown-skinned, black-skinned babies. I whisper a prayer for them: God, encamp your angels around them. Provide a hedge of protection for them. Keep them in the palm of your hands. Still, I worry. I am afraid. I am painfully human. My other children have found me frozen like a statue, staring out the window, listening to sirens, breathing a little too quickly to be considered normal, thick, hot tears falling down my face. It could happen to them. It could happen to them.
It feels like each and every day I scroll through my Facebook feed, another person of color is shot dead.
In the middle of the street
driving home from school
in a jail cell
in front of their house
hands in the air
his back to the police
sitting in his car
sitting in her car
Why do you think this is happening so often, my son asked me one day, his eyebrows knitted together in concern. It’s been all over his timeline, too
Mijo, it has been happening to black and brown people for years, thinking of my grandfather, my uncles, my father and my husband. It’s just that now we’re seeing it brought to light.
I try my best not to transfer my fears onto my children, while still making them aware, awake. I meditate daily, believing God when he says he hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love and a sound mind. That is what keeps me sane as I process through what it means to raise up brown sons in today’s world.