I am Trayvon Martin’s mother. I am sad. I am angry. I am confused. I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless and not in control. Listening to the news and reading the Twitter feeds and Facebook comments helps me know that I am not the only person who feels like Trayvon Martin’s mother. This tragic case is one that everyone can support. Why? Because Trayvon was a child when he died. Correction, when he was murdered. And as a parent, more specifically, as a mother, it hurts to think of a mother who has learned that her child has died. Died and now must be buried. I always tell my own kids that parents should not have to bury their children. When a mother aches for the loss of her child, we ALL ache. Dads too, I’m sure of it.
Regardless of your color or your economic situation, bringing up a baby is a happy time. You protect them from germs; you make sure anyone who holds them supports their delicate little necks. You revel at the firs time they smile at you. You take pictures at milestones; you read their favorite story over and over and over (and over) again. You are proud. You are a parent. You are in control of your child’s life and you relish that opportunity to provide for that child and keep them safe.
But the world is unkind to children. Children are kidnapped, raped, and killed daily and there’s nothing you can do about it but hug your little one tighter at bedtime and hope the family of the victim gets some kind of comfort somewhere. And you never think it will happen to you. Unfortunately, the odds are against you if you are a Black male living in the South wearing a hoodie.
Do you teach your sweet little one to say thank you when they are given something? Yes. Do you teach your baby about stranger danger? Of course you do. Do you teach your child that being a young Black male in America puts you at odds with everyone? Of course you don’t. And why not? Because you mistakenly assume that if your child is polite and looks both ways before crossing the street that he is safe from harm. And you know what? You are wrong.
It is a shame that in 2012 with all the technological advances in the world and everything else that is glorious about modern day, it is still a crime to be a young Black male in America and there is nothing you can do about it.
But still, you persist.
You talk to your sons and tell them that they have to accept that the world is unfair to them. Life will be more difficult for them than for their sisters or their White counterparts.
You tell your sons that they have to be nicer, dress better (no saggy pants), be smarter, keep your anger in check, and be better at everything else to be successful.
You tell your sons that no matter how much fame and glory they obtain (even Presidency!) they will still just be a Black boy to some folks.
So, aside from teaching them about stranger danger, you have to teach them how to be on guard every single day of their lives. People will be afraid of him if the two of you are walking down the same side of the street and may cross over to the other side avoid him.
You teach your sons to pick their battles, and while its important not to be a doormat and get walked on, it’s more important to come home each day: alive and in one piece. Check your ego at the door, you tell them. Mommy just wants you safe.
And then? You watch them walk out the door and hope they will be ok; and you’re pretty sure they will because you’ve equipped them with the skills they need, right?
Only you didn’t think about that damn hoodie he was wearing and how it might cause a problem. It’s just a sweatshirt; all the kids wear them.
And now? You’ve lost your child because it was nighttime and he was Black and he was wearing a hoodie and happened to be on the outskirts of a community patrolled by racists on the hunt for a prowler.
That prowler was your son, walking home from the store and on the phone with his girlfriend and he was afraid. Afraid for his life. And you weren’t there to make it all better, like mommies are supposed to do. And now you hurt.
And now I hurt too because I am a mother and my heart aches for Trayvon Martin’s mother.
I am Trayvon Martin’s mother. I am sad. I am angry. I am confused. I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless and not in control.