There is only one safe place, in this nation for my Black son:
Yes I said my Black son. I have no other option because this nation will never let him – or me – forget that he is Black.
He can’t just be my son. He can never just be a boy. He can never just exist because of the color of his skin. Never, as long as we live in this nation at this time.
Well, at any time if I am telling the truth and I really am trying to tell the truth here.
The truth is I want to wrap my arms around my beautiful boy and never let him go like in the photo above. That is the only safe place for him in a world where he is male, non verbal, easily excited, on the Autism spectrum, and Black.
In my arms is the only place where he will have unconditional love, where he can breathe without consequence, where there is no crime for existing.
What pains me the most is that he can no longer live in my arms, unaffected by what the world will assault him with, I am powerless to prevent it.
As a child I listened to the stories of Bonnie, telling the tale of her life and her struggle. A Black woman in the North well after (and during) the Civil Rights Movement. I listened to the stories she told me of hatred directed at her for no reason. Of discrimination both covert and overt. I listened in the 1970s and 1980s thinking that this was a different world than what she knew. It took me into the 1990s to find out that things were not different at all.
It took sitting in a diner, in Manayunk with a co-worker and hearing a little White boy ask his mother if I was a nigger, to feel what Bonnie felt, to react, to understand…..the White trash in the booth next to me would always feel the privilege to diminish my humanity simply because of the color of my skin.
At the turn of the century, in the year 2000, I found myself in the position of teaching my child the lessons I learned or giving him hope that it would be a different world for him.
It is my life, and all of my alternatives to the normal that allows me to stand. The number on the scale, the multi facets of my sexuality, the color of my skin, my liberal leanings which gives me the strength to weather one more strike against my humanity.
It is the years I’ve accumulated that prevents me from just laying down and giving up and saying there is no use, there is no point, a change will not come.
I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life forcing those around me to accept what they wish to pretend does not exist.
I have to now empower my child to fight that same fight, and color his vizion of the world in ways I should not have to establish.
I was prepared to fight this fight because of the preparation of my parent. She gave me the tools to understand what would come and she also installed within me the drive to prove …. something … anything other than what the world perceived of me. She didn’t do it on purpose, but it happened. It made me uniquely capable to say fuck you with authority to the authority who marginalized me.
How do I do that to my child? How do I harden his promise, his hopes, his vizion and why must I?
These are the questions you ask on morning like this when you are the parent of a Black son. Questions that no other parent has to ask themselves in the same way.
When I wake up on the morning after another White man, has faced no penalty for killing a Black child, I have to ask how do I prepare my son for the life he will live?
I don’t get to ask myself how will I inspire him, how will I elevate him, how will I support him to reach his dreams of life… I have to ask how do I shelter and protect him from what will kill him.
I have no other option than to explain to a child, who understands only the simplest of messages, that Black is a death sentence. That this world will never love him as I do, and that they will actually hate him for who he is, what he does, even if that is just walking down the street.
In the White House is a Black man. I should be able to point to our Black President and show my child that anything is possible. Yes, even for a child with emotional retardation and without words. Instead I have to teach him that there is no safe place for him… anywhere.
I have to teach him that the men and women in police uniforms will fear him and that fear might kill him.
I have to teach him that the men and women who walk by him on the street do not see him until they see that he is a threat to their condition and they will eliminate that threat without thought or hesitation.
I have to teach him how to not die, I can never teach him how to live.
When you wake up on mornings like this it takes all of the fight out of you. It takes all of the love out of you. It takes all of the hope out of you. It produces a fear that eludes words and simply inspires the desire to survive.
What life is that?
and why must I exist like that?
and why must my child who’s only crime is inhaling and exhaling?
and why do I feel so tired, so weary, so fatigued?