Note: These feelings and thoughts are my own. I am not representing the entire Black race, just me. I have changed any names that are included in this piece. This is not the usual type of post for me, but I can’t seem to write about anything else until I get this out. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t believe that ‘it always happens to the other guy’. Too many wonderful and not so wonderful things have happened to me. And so I write this piece, “Please Don’t Kill My Son”.
Please don’t kill my son. It makes me angry to write these words, because it seems like I am begging. But I am mother who loves her children so I will beg if I have to. PLEASE DON’T KILL MY SON!
These words and the feelings in my heart and mind have been stuck in my finger tips for the last month. Ever since Philando Castile was killed by a police officer in Minnesota. I hate the way the way the words make me feel and I hate that I must write this, but I can’t seem to write about anything else, so be it.
I never knew the depths of my rage, fear and feelings of helplessness until last month on a trip with my tribe: my close friends and family of my heart. These people have helped to raise my children, but they are white and this time, I could not hold back my feelings as we somehow got on the subject on the murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and the killing of the officers in Dallas.
I remember my almost hysterical screams as my friend John tried to relate the actions of the police today to his days in Vietnam and what soldiers had to do to keep themselves safe. I screamed my response to him that “This is not Vietnam and we (people of color) are not the enemy. My son should not have to die because some cop is having a bad day, or is angry about something that happened hours ago.”
Why Do I Feel Helpless
As a parent we know that our children can and will get hurt. Scraped knees, broken bones or chipped teeth can all be handled with a kiss and a trip to a doctor. As a parent, I’ve always tried to keep my kids safe from most of the stupid mistakes that can get them hurt with admonitions such as, look both ways before crossing the street, hold the scissors correctly, and don’t run down the stairs (so they jump of course). But I can’t help my child with this situation.
What do I tell him? Don’t resist? Stay in the car? Call for another police car so that there is more than one officer so that hopefully they will feel less threatened? Turn on the smart phone app so that the encounter is recorded in case you need documentation later?
You see the problem with this situation is that there is no set of rules or guidance that I can give my child to keep him safe. And if while you read this post, you think to yourself, he just has to be respectful and do what the officer asks, then you need to check your white privilege at the door. Because it is so, so different for people of color. Talk about DWB (Driving While Black), I was stopped and made to stand and wait for someone to come ID me while WWB (Walking While Black).
Why would that situation be so tragic? Because the description the police had was ‘a black woman’, not a black woman, 6’2 in heels, wearing cornrows and a bright red dress, just coming home from work with two bags of Subway sandwiches in her hands’. Who knew there could be more than one black woman at a time at this shopping mall?
And the comment from the crowd that gathered around to watch my humiliation…. “Well you have to understand.” Actually no I don’t.
But I do have to recognize that at 6’2 and over 200 pounds if my son encountered a police officer having a bad day, he could easily be the next ‘tragic incident’. Followed by TV interviews and newspaper articles about how the police officer thought my son was reaching for a weapon or that my son’s description matched a warrant for someone wanted for [enter whatever crime you wish here]. Then there would be rebuttal interviews by friends and family about how wonderful my son was and how he had his whole life ahead of him.
But no matter what, my son would still be dead.
So to police officers I offer this. You chose your profession. And it could be the same traits that make you a good officer, could also be the same traits that make you a dangerous one in certain circumstances. If you are having a bad day, please remember that the black man with whom you are speaking is some one’s son. If could be my son. It took me nine years and two miscarriages before I was blessed with him. Please don’t kill my son.