Just before Easter, I was watching a mommy Youtuber that I have been watching since pregnancy talk about what she bought her kids and step children for their baskets. Ok, let’s get real. I was stealing her ideas on what to put in Miles’ basket! Her twin boys are about 6 months older than Miles so the toys were definitely age appropriate. After getting a general ahem idea of what I should buy, I headed to the happiest place on adult, mother, alone time, Earth; Target.
While walking up and down the aisles, I picked up some bubbles, toy cars, and saw one of the gifts that the mommy Youtuber had chosen; a brightly colored toy water gun. Innocent toy for a 2 or 3 year old right? I mean, she got it for her twin sons so why shouldn’t I? Miles would LOVE it.
But, here’s the thing. My son and I are black. We are aggressive, statistics, murders, rapists, evil in the form of human. My son doesn’t get the benefit of being an innocent 2 year old running around with his florescent lime green water gun on Easter. He is instead a thug in training. He is not afforded the chance to be a free range kid because that free range could cost him his life and cost me my child. He doesn’t get to go to school looking a disheveled or messy as toddlers tend to be because I would be a misfit, young, unmarried, uneducated, poor, black mother that has no idea what she is doing with no right to have a child.
When my son grows up out of his cute toddler age and into his preteens, his father and I will sit him down and explain to him the risks of being a black man in this country, our home. We will get to talk to him about how to handle himself in future traffic stops, at night after hanging out with friends, or while just walking down a sidewalk with a hoodie on.
This reality makes me literally sick, sad, afraid, anxious, and every terrible feeling one could feel. Last night, after watching the video of yet another unarmed black man being gunned down, I gave my son a bath and looked him in the eyes and my heart sank. Where do we go from here? The conversation has to continue. Talking about how sad the situation is really is pointless. Talk about racism. Talk about the difficult conversations. Teach your children, of every race, about cultures and history. It is your responsibility as a parent.
Everyone, especially white people in this country, have to realize that racism is alive and very well. White privilege is ingrained in our society. I can’t buy my son a toy water gun. I can’t practice free range parenting. I can’t ever let them see me slip. I am not afforded those privileges of motherhood and my son will never be afforded those pleasures of growing up.