Today’s Black History spotlight is remembering two black boys…Emmett Till and Tamir Rice. As a mother of a black son I constantly think about the effects of racism in this country and how it will show its ugly head as he grows. My struggle to conceive him was overcome the moment I heard him cry. I carried him in my womb until my body could no longer support him being inside me. He was my first and last thought as I was rolled into the cold operating room.
That fear never went away. It was replaced as I started hearing about our black boys being murdered. You see, I lived a sheltered life and thought that only black boys that were gang bangers were being shot. This doesn’t happen in the suburbs. Until, Trayvon Martin.
How quickly a child’s laugh could be replaced with a mother’s mournful cry. A cry filled with so much pain that I can only try to stifle that growing and gnawing pain in my own stomach. I can’t imagine losing the little boy that I prayed for. That I carried in my womb ushering in his life.
Trayvon’s death helped me see that this world hadn’t changed much. That people will still judge you by the color of your skin. People will assume no matter how many degrees I may have or how much money I make or the nice cars I drive or fancy neighborhoods that I move into that my son doesn’t belong there. Because he is black.
Times have supposedly changed but they haven’t changed enough. I try to hide the target on my son’s back everyday that I send him to school armed with the items necessary for him to succeed…a book bag, his school uniform and lunch box filled with all his favorite foods. Notes, I think. Don’t forget to put that note in his lunch box telling him how much you love him and you’re so proud of him.
Because if you do…
You just want to make sure that he knows. He knows that he’s beautiful. He’s smart. He’s loved.
No playing with guns. No video games. Nothing that could ever make him a target. I buy him name brand clothes. Spend my hard earned money buying from shops that some of his peers can’t afford. My only child. If I hide him then they won’t see him right?
I’m doing it because I love him.
The same way that Emmett’s mother loved her son. The same way that Tamir’s mom thought that letting him play outside was okay. Both were children who didn’t come home one day. Children who will never graduate high school. Get married. Have kids. Have a future. Mother’s who felt the emptiness in their wombs from the loss of their boys.
I vow to remember the names. The countless names. I vow to try to change the system. I vow to remember that our history, Black History is America’s history and we have to do better.
Emmett Till – July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955
Tamir Rice – June 25, 2002 – November 22, 2014