As many of you can probably tell from my previous posts that I immensely love my son Brennan. What mother wouldn’t? He is my beautiful baby boy. A gift from God and each day I thank God for allowing me to be the vessel to carry and birth him knowing that he belongs to me for only a limited time, but he belongs to God for a lifetime. But, I have a confession…I’m scared for my son.
Growing up in a post George Zimmerman/Michael Dunn era I fear for my son’s life. I fear having to tell my loving 5 year old son when he grows up that there are rules he must follow because of the color of his skin. I have to not only teach him how to read and write, but also how to look for verbal cues and to not respond. See the color of his skin makes him a threat. People may lock their doors and roll up their windows when they see him walking down the streets. He can’t wear street clothes that show his individual style sense in some neighborhoods because he will be labeled a thug. Keep your music low son and your smile friendly. You are black and your skin color will make some people feel uncomfortable. His skin, the color of caramel candy and my Venti iced coffee with so much cream will give some folks reason to pause. His black skin, my black skin, his father’s black skin. Black. He is still black.
Blacks have made significant strides since slavery, but the struggle still continues. Black boys are dying everyday with suspect circumstances and I won’t let that be him. His life means so much to me that I have to keep pressing him. Keep him in school where he will learn to speak French fluently and Mandarin (hopefully) by the time he graduates. Add physical activities such as soccer and swimming that will make him well rounded. Begin horse back riding lessons this summer only to help him appear to be a well-rounded non-threatening IBM (Ideal Black Man). The kind that you want to hire after he graduates from Harvard or MIT. The kind that you will find employable. Because let’s face it…times have changed. He is growing up in a country post Enron and the Wall Street bailout where corporate corruption has left the little person struggling to find a break and the unemployment rate is higher for black males than any other group. I will not lose him to the streets has been my battle cry since I looked into his beautiful brown eyes for the first time and realized he was mine. My black son.
I will keep up my vigilance to protest the injustices of our children all the while having to…
- Teach Brennan that racism still exists and even though you are loved by friends and family that are not black, not everyone will love you. Some will even fear you…because you are black.
- Stand by Brennan when he gets his driver’s license because I will have to explain racial profiling.
- Check on Brennan throughout the night to make sure that he is soundly sleeping in his room because I will worry about him when he goes out with friends.
- Downplay to Brennan the real reason that I pushed him into Tae Kwan Do and boxing at an early age. (I wanted him to learn to walk away from all fights, but to use what you’ve learned as a last resort to defend himself against those who want to harm him).
- Teach Brennan how to respect the police and bridle his tongue because I don’t want him beaten for anything that could be justified as resisting arrest.
- Teach Brennan that even though he is a descendant of kings, he is a black boy who will grow up and become a black man with a bulls-eye on his back because of the color of his skin.
But, I won’t give up. I will keep pushing forward to not only teach him about God, Martin Luther King Jr., Booker T. Washington, President Barack Obama and many more extraordinary black men who in history have made an impact, but to teach him that like James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it’s faced”. My black son has a name and it’s Brennan.
This spoken word artist captures some of the feelings and fears that I face every day with knowledge that I’m raising a black son. Jasmine Mans – Black Son.