Like any parent, its our job to keep our children safe. We worry about things like them falling while learning to walk, getting into the cleaning supplies underneath the cabinet and later driving the car by themselves. I think it’s safe to say that we all have similar concerns about our children’s safety, even when they become adults!
I thought I had considered every possible scenario that I could worry about with our kids, that is until the youngest (Xavier) was placed in my care as an infant. You see, we are white and we have white kids. We were born into that privilege. With that privilege comes things I never imagined and never understood. That is, until Xavier came into my life.
Xavier is not only African-American, but he is also special needs. He has developmental delays that have put him behind in some areas up to 2-3 years behind where he should be at. In other ways, he’s very much an almost 7 year old.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve remained focused on ensuring that he gets the best education possible and that he’s challenged to do the best that he can. However, I’ve also become more and more aware that my job of keeping him safe is a taller challenge that I originally thought. This has nothing to do with Xavier himself and everything to do with the increasingly blatant biased behavior in this country. It’s not that I have never had to worry about biased behavior. We are, after all, a same-sex couple raising 3 boys. But this, this is about something my son has absolutely no control over. The color of his skin.
Over the past several weeks I’ve begun to worry about his safety. Will I have to worry about him walking down the sidewalk and being attacked or even killed because of the color of his skin. What if he were the one sitting in a Starbuck waiting for friends? What if he were the one sitting in a car waiting to pick someone up outside a Walmart? What if he were the one pulled over? For him, it’s more than just his skin tone.. it’s the fact that he may or may not understand what someone is asking of him. What if he doesn’t develop the mental aptitude to understand the severity of the situation? Will he be shot because he doesn’t understand and his skin is black? Do I need to teach him what the black mom’s have to teach their boys.. if you get pulled over, put your hands on the top of the wheel and do not move! The simple fact that ANYONE would have to teach their child to not move their hands when they get pulled over, simply because of the color of their skin, is despicable.
I can’t fathom the day to day life of a person of color, I won’t even try to say I can imagine, because I can’t. I can, however, imagine some of their fear that their child will be arrested or even shot, simply because they are black. A white man is able to murder multiple people in cold blood and be taken into custody (with a weapon on him) without being shot by police. A black man can simply be waiting in his car to pick up someone in front of a Walmart (with absolutely no weapons) and be murdered in a hail of bullets fired into his car by police. It’s heartbreaking and it’s wrong.
This, this is what my child is growing up in. How do I keep him safe from what has become so emboldened in this country? How do I teach him that his skin color doesn’t determine anything about him other than it has more pigment than mine does? How do I teach him that his skin color doesn’t determine his worth when it’s being used to profile & systematically discriminate & murder?
America doesn’t need to become great again.. it needs to become great for all. All doesn’t mean some, all means all. #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean they matter more or other lives don’t matter.. simply that they matter. Yes, all lives matter.. that’s the point.