Like every Black mother who read or watched the story of Trayvon Martin unfold, immediately following the anger, sadness and outrage, I felt fear. That not-so irrational fear of "Will my son be next?".
I watch my nine-year-old running around the backyard pretending to be the hero from whatever new cartoon he's obsessing about this week and I wonder how can anyone think he's dangerous, suspicious? Not my son. But every Black mom thinks, not my son, don't they?
As the story continued to unfold and the media storm reached full crescendo, I knew a conversation with my inquisitive children would be unavoidable. This is unfortunately a required lesson for a male black child. How do you explain the what you cannot understand? How do you make sense of what isn't sensible? I debated on what to tell my very sheltered, very sensitive son. He's one of those children that insist on everything being fair and equal. After all nine is way to young to understand the complexities of racism and racial profiling right?
So as the evening news flashed Travyon Martin's face across the screen once more I readied myself to broach subject with my son. To my surprise, he beat me to the punch. He says "Mommy have you heard about Trayvon Martin?". When I replied yes, my baby began explain to me the intrinsic details of the case! He expressed such outrage and sadness. He sounded so mature, I was proud. Then as he takes his Oreos to kitchen table, he says "I hope I don't get 'racial profiled' Mommy". And my heart breaks.
As proud as I was initially for having a child so knowledgeable and informed, I was now equally devastated. At a time when my son's most pressing fear should be his spelling test on Friday, why should he carry this extra burden? I thought to myself "he's way too young to know this". But when is the right age? What is the right age to let my son know that as a black male he is never safe? At what age is it to say you will be forever fighting a negative image that isn't a reflection who you are? How old should he be before I tell him, that police are here to protect and serve everyone who isn't you? When do I let him know that the judicial system doesn't work for you dear?
How can it be my duty as the mother of this child who looks at the world as this bright open place full of promise and opportunity and teach him that it's an active landmine that he'll spend his life trying not to detonate?
I may be naive, but that's a lesson I'm just not ready to teach.