Trayvon’s impact on our lives…

I am a mother of two children. One of those children happens to be a male with brown skin. Someday he will be a black man. This is not something I think about very often. I do think about the fact that someday he will be a man, an adult version of himself. I don’t think about the perils that will come simply because he will be a black man. That is because I do not know them.

I know the dangers of being a woman. I know that it is a good idea to always be aware of my surroundings. I know there are places I shouldn’t go alone. I don’t go jogging after dark by myself. I am aware of strange men when they are in my presence. I allow myself to follow my instinct when I am uncomfortable with someone and not to question it. Were these things taught to me directly, something I learned from watching the women in my life, or something I learned from experience? I am honestly not sure.

Trayvon Martin has caused me to take a look how we parent our son. This article made me wonder, are we doing enough? We are raising him to be responsible, educated, kind, thoughtful, open-minded, courageous and respectful. But we have not taught him to be cautious. I have not warned him of the dangers he may face because of his skin color. Because I have not experienced them myself. We know he is much more likely to be pulled over on the way to visit his grandparents than we are. Regardless of whether we drive exactly the same way. We know people will make snap judgements about him without knowing anything other than how he looks. What has not crossed my mind is that people would fear him. That people would be more likely to hurt him in ‘self-defense,’ without any action on his part. That I should teach him how to respond to these people. How to not provoke people. How to be conscious of the fact that people will assume he is up to no good or is going to cause them harm. That he should always be very aware of whether his clothing will increase thoughts of his being ‘dangerous.’ He doesn’t know these things!!! In his 5 years he has not yet experienced blatant racism. We have talked about racism, but he has not seen it himself. I know I cannot protect him forever. I am not naive enough to think it will never happen. I am not even naive enough to think he can make it until he is 8 without this life lesson. But how do I prepare him? This is the challenge of transracial parenting. Do all black parents teach their sons how to deal with people who fear them? I do not know. But I am not afraid to ask. Is it an unspoken education that I was oblivious to for the past 32 years? Or is it something that is learned from watching those around them? Or is it learned through experience?

I want my son to have an amazing life. I don’t want any one to ever think a negative thought about him based on the color of his skin. The thought of someone being so afraid of him that they would hurt him simply makes my heart stop. I am sad for our world…

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