As I watch the news recently about Sean Reed and hearing the detective joke about his funeral being a closed casket my heart hurts. While this young man was laying lifeless in the street without being covered up, that was something to laugh about? I still cannot figure out what he did that was so wrong that caused him to lose his life. Many will say, he shouldn’t have ran or he posed a threat. Eye witnesses say that he only had his phone and his shirt while running away. That seems accurate since he was filming on Facebook live the whole time.
Now I know many people at this point are saying they are tired of hearing about this kind of stuff, there is no such thing as racism, talking about it makes it worse, and there is no difference people just need to work harder for what they want. In the eyes of myself and many people of color that is bull. This is something we live with everyday whether we want to or not. There is no option. We must talk about it or else no one would know about it. Just look at Ahmaud Arbery. It took two months for the world to know what happened to him to get the ball rolling. How many others do we not know about?
As for him not running away, well the truth of the matter is he could’ve had the same outcome if he had stood there and complied. It’s been seen time and time again. Philando Castile informed the officer that he legally had a weapon before attempting to get his license like the officer wanted before being shot. What I find even more shocking about the Sean Reed incident is that the same day is that two men of the opposite color did the same thing minus being on Facebook live and these two men were armed plus wearing body armor. Those two men were also arrested without injury. They live to see another day. So my question in this case is, “What made them less of a threat?”
During a time where my boys (Age 11 and 7) are supposed to be living young, wild, and free; they must start their life lessons. Those lessons go something like this:
These are the laws you must study today. Always know your rights.
When you get pulled over stay calm, turn your music down, have your license and registration attached to the visor overhead so it is always readily available, and no matter what keep your hands on the steering wheel. Do whatever you have to do to drive away safely.
When you walk in the store take your hood off. It does not matter that the person next to you of the opposite color has his on. You are seen as a threat and he is not. Also keep your hands out of your pockets until you leave out the store.
When talking to an officer or anyone else make sure your hands are visible at all times to prevent the escalation of the fear within a person that could cause harm to you.
Choose your battles wisely
Most importantly, should you find yourself in a situation where it is your life or someone else’s, DEFEND yourself at all times.
These are the life lessons that many children males and females of color have to go through at a young age. It does not matter that my children have been raised in the suburbs their whole lives and that their parents are veterans. Once they leave our neighborhood and even inside, they are still just a color to many that are filled with ignorant information about people like them. Many ask, “What do we do?” I wonder if there is anything we can do. There are still so many blind to everything that’s happening, many do not want to speak out because of fear of backlash, and then there are the main ones that are part of the problem. So for those that read this and want to chime in, feel free to tell me, “What do we do?”
As May 7th approaches, I’m filled with thoughts of your memory. May 7th, the last day I was able to physically hold you. In my mind I knew what the day would bring, but my heart wasn’t ready. I couldn’t let someone so precious go so soon. Looking down at you I was hit with a shocking realization that I was being selfish. I wanted to continue to hold your hand all through life until it was my time to transition, but right then in my presence is where your body was receiving the most pain.
So I released you and asked that you be free from pain. I knew that although you were not physically with me I would still have the comfort of your memories. I remember not long after you left, I had a dream of you. In that dream I walked up to my granny who was rocking and holding a child. That child was you. I told her your name and she looked at me as if I was crazy. She told me she knew who her grandchild was and then resumed rocking.
I wanted to stay in that moment longer, but the smile she gave me and her eyes let me know it was time to leave. So I did with a sense of contentment. I no longer had you, but I knew you were safe in the very arms that helped mold me into the woman I am today. I will always miss you and I will always love. I just have to do it from a distance now.
On May 7th, I celebrate your life and everything it was. You fought bravely to make it into this world with hydrocephalus and through every surgery. You surpassed the time you were initially given and gave me so many moments to cherish. I’m so proud to have a son like you and if given the chance I would do it all over again by your side.
As I down the last of my drink, I look into the eyes of the most precious child. She doesn’t deserve what she has to go through now. The person she loves and looks up to more than anything no longer resides in her home.
She questions everyday what time he’s coming home from work and I have no idea how to tell her that right now he’s not coming home, but one day she’ll be visiting him at his new house.
Her little mind won’t be able to fully understand how she went from a two parent home to one. She won’t get that the love and togetherness she was surrounded in is now split down the middle until a mutual co-existent bond can be formed in favor of her.
One day when she’s old enough the questions will come. She’ll wonder where the happiness went so quickly and why it didn’t work. I’ll have to smile in her face and feed her some excuse about how we both love each other but things just didn’t work out. I won’t have the heart to tell her that unfortunately the sins of the parents are too strong to overcome.
“I am not one of your little friends!” I yell out loud before turning to see who said that. Did those words really come out of my mouth? When did I turn into my mother?
Rushing to the mirror I take a look at myself. Those were the same words she used to tell me and now I’m saying it to my child. My pre-teen son who has decided to tap dance on my tolerance level because he’s suddenly the “man” in school and it’s gone to his head.
The pre-teen son who I have helped spoil rotten and is now paying for it. Going back into the room I take him in. Standing there looking like his father. Smooth dark chocolate skin, dimples in both cheeks, a smile that will melt any girls heart, and those eyes that’ll look the devil in his eyes and call him out on what he feels is wrong.
This is my child who has now forced me to turn into my mother all because he feels it’s unfair to lose his electronics for a week. Never mind that he’s acted up in school, never mind that he didn’t empty the trash like his father told him to, never mind that he didn’t change the bands on his braces today that I’m pay tons of money for, and never mind that the dog that he asked for needs to be walked but he spent so much time on his phone he neglected to do it again.
All that does not matter because in his eyes the world is so unfair and I’m the cause of it. So now I have to turn into my mother. I walk up to him, hands on hips, stern frown on my face, and proceed to give him the same speech I received once upon a time and it sounded like this……
I AM NOT ONE OF YOUR LITTLE FRIENDS. IF YOU THINK I AM YOU ARE SURELY MISTAKEN. NOW WHEN YOU ARE GIVEN A TASK, I EXPECT YOU TO DO IT. SINCE YOU COULDN’T DO IT CONSIDER YOURSELF ON PUNISHMENT. IF THE ATTITUDE CONTINUES THEN YOU CAN ADD MORE TIME ON TO YOUR PUNISHMENT. THINK ITS A GAME, TRY ME AND SEE.
The look on his face shows that he got the message loud and clear. Off to his room he goes probably thinking of me as the bad guy. As his door closes I finally let out a sigh of relief. He doesn’t know that that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In my eyes he’ll always be my little chocolate firstborn baby, but babying him I can do no longer. So now I must resort to reminding him that I am his mother and not one of his little friends.