We, like many parents, wanted “different” for our kids. In hindsight, what different meant was really not well defined. I just knew that certain distant male family members were involved in some undesirable dealings with “the Law” and I believed that was not the future for my boys. So, we smugly decided to raise them in “Suburbia, USA” with streets lined with two parent households, Volvos in the driveway and very few kids that looked like them.
Living and telling the stories of mothers of Black & brown children who have been disproportionately targeted by law enforcement is one that I can do with great ease. However, how do you adequately tell the stories when you have a Black or brown child who honorably serves at such a time as this?
We have two beautiful sons. Our oldest, is 6 ft. tall, a HBCU graduate, wonderful husband & father of two children, eyes like mine, a plush jet black beard, super introspective, and a smile to light up the room. Our youngest is 6’3” tall, a HBCU graduate, eyes like mine, distinguished goatee, super intelligent and a magnanimous personality.
When we were raising the boys, I had a strict rule that there would be no guns, real or “child’s play”, in the house. The boys were not allowed to play “cops & robbers” and the emergence of water guns brought me a renewed opposition to guns as I grappled with letting the boys “be boys”. I maintained the philosophy that a black man didn’t need any problems that a gun would bring. In retrospect, oh how flawed that philosophy was and is today. Ironically, my oldest son grew up to become a police officer in the midst of that nonsensical black male parenting. So begins my journey towards embracing my son’s career path and understanding, he is a targeted Black man FIRST.
BOTH are beautiful Black men.
BOTH are a perceived threat to some White people.
BOTH are targets in one way or another.
One has honorably worn a badge for more than 14 years.
BOTH are afraid.
BOTH are now “strapped”.