A Song for Brennan

Because I am a mother. Because I am black. Because I feel pain. I wrote this piece.

 

“A Song for Brennan”

Almost seven years ago, I birthed a king

Difficult conception, difficult delivery, but I had faith

You see I knew death from diseases that you weren’t supposed to get

I knew what it was like to see someone you love lying in a casket as people wept

Silently

 

But I prayed

I prayed for peace

I prayed for my seed growing in my womb

I prayed for you my son

 

I imagined your face being a combination of me and your daddy’s

I imagined singing you to sleep every night with songs I created in my mind

Why?

Because Rock-a-Bye-Baby scared the hell out of me

No way were you going to be up in a tree in a cradle

With the dang wind blowing?

What kind of foolishness was that?

Mess I said

Besides I knew I would never let you fall

 

My job was to protect you

Like wings of an eagle, I would always be there

You were the angel in my womb

God’s favor over my life defined

My chance at redemption

 

I changed

I became a fanatic

Reading everything I could get my hands on

I wanted to nurture you physically, mentally and spiritually

I vowed to protect you

Always

No greater love

 

It’s been an incredible journey my sweet boy

You’ve taught me how to love beyond measure

You challenge me

You inspire me

You love me

You question me

 

But I’ve lied dear sweet boy

Not because I wanted too, but because I had too

I couldn’t tell you the truth when you asked me about the police

I smiled away my tears as allergies when you caught me crying

I laughed and kissed you and said “Mommy loves you so much”

When you questioned the sadness in my eyes the next morning

 

“Is it me Mommy?” You asked

“Are you mad at me?” You questioned

“No baby” I responded

 

Truth is love

That I’m crying for all those mothers that lose

Lose their sons

For walking home from the store

For playing in the park

For walking to school

For

For

 

Being black

Because being black in this damn world

Is killing me

It angers me

That our children are dying

That you will never know

That in the midst of my tears for injustice

That I scream the names

For Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner

Michael Brown, John Crawford,

Jonathan Ferrell, Tamir Rice and the countless others

Who have lost their life

Because my dear sweet baby boy

I want you to know that

Black lives matter

You matter

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No More

No more please. No more killing of our black babies and offering up excuses. I’m tired. As a mother to a black boy, this is my deepest fear. A fear that he will not be here on this Earth all the days of my life because of senseless violence. I mean Michael Brown and Ferguson is still fresh in my mind and now we hear about Tamir Rice? How could this happen?

A boy. A baby. Not even a teenager. A child. He is six years older than my son. He is a black boy. He is someone’s son. He is not going to go on his first date. He will not go to his prom. He will not graduate high school. He will not go to college. He will not get married. He will not be a father. He is dead.

How does this happen? Why are our children being used as target practice. No more. I can’t take it. I have a son. I don’t let him play with guns. I don’t let him play video games. I don’t allow him to play alone any where. I organize play dates and I organize outings. Why? Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that he will be used as target practice and there is nothing no one will be able to tell me.

I’m crying. Literally writing this piece with tears rolling down my face. I’m scared. Scared of looking into the eyes of my son and knowing that because he is a black boy that no matter what I do to prepare him to not be viewed as a threat, he may be killed senselessly by law enforcement. This is heartbreaking to me.

To make matters worse, how the heck can someone like former Mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani even justify cops killing blacks by saying that “White police officers wouldn’t be in black neighborhoods, killing black men, if you weren’t killing each other.” Are you kidding me? Why would you even say that? To say that our tax dollars don’t buy us the right to have officers serve and protect without killing us or using the stop-and-frisk method because of the color of our skin is of true offense.

Understand this…I mourn all deaths due to senseless violence. But let’s get real, if my son was murdered by someone who is not a law enforcement official we would hopefully see some sort of justice. If it is law enforcement that murders him then the odds that something will happen are slim to none. He will still be dead and his murderer will be free.

My plea is simple:  Please stop killing our children. Please stop murdering my brothers, fathers, cousins and uncles. Please stop protecting those that kill the innocent. Please prosecute those who kill our children. I will go home and be able to kiss my munch, listen to him tell me about his day at school, listen to him tell me how he can’t wait to go to his grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and listen to him tell me that he loves me tonight. I will get to put him asleep, kissing his forehead and sending prayers of thanks to God for another day with him. Tamir’s parents do not have that luxury. They will have to plan a funeral.

Tamir Rice
Tamir Rice

 

My Black Son Has A Name

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.

 

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