Today is my son’s 12th birthday. As we celebrate this yearly milestone I’m always awwed and impressed by the young man, super boy, I have and continue to raise. This year however it is a little different. I woke up earlier then him this morning and since I’m a recent grad -fancy lingo for being unemployed but happily, frantically searching for employment- I decided to finish watching a movie I had started on Netflix but didnt get to finish because, Netflix sporadically disconnected and froze as it ussually does. But back to the moment at hand, I finished watching the heart-wrenching film, Fruitvale Station. As I watched 22-year-old Oscar Grant being shot then taken to the hospital I was met with a deep sense of dread and forbodding. I’m raising a young black man. When will he cross over into the dangerous territory of being a black man in public, has he already?
Some people may think I’m being dramatic or worrying about nothing. But Michael Brown a recent high school graduate and unarmed young black man living in Missouri was just gunned down by his local police.
Like his mother I encourage my son to work hard in school and look forward to the achievement and pride of graduating high school; and like Mrs. Brown I am going to teach my son about navigating in a outside world that views him as a threat, a problem. Whether he is innocently walking home with skittles and a drink, or he decides to pull into a gas station and not turn down his music. You see to most people these are everyday occurences but unfortunately for young black men it may be grounds for someone to shoot them.
Today I shed tears for Oscar Grant and Michael Brown, but a I also shed tears for the innocence my son has lost, not by any of his own actions but simply because he is a black adolescent.
I don’t have the answers that will stop this. I’m just a Mom trying to raise a son. But I know Oscar’s mom and Michael’s mom were doing the same, and as they lay on the ground slowly bleeding to death I doubt the cops that shot thought about the hopes and dreams these men and their families had or the fact that they were once little boys who their mothers looked at and saw a limitless future. No they just see another black faced criminal or whatever they tell themselves to justify shooting an unarmed 18-year-old eight times.