I’m afraid of saying or writing the wrong thing.
Of using the wrong words.
Of sounding like I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
Of having someone tell me that this something I have no business talking about.
Of offending someone (or several someones) who I care about and who I love.
I’m talking, of course, about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two Black men killed at the hands of police within 24 hours.
Still, I really do feel my words are inadequate, and I worry that they may be misperceived by my friends who care deeply about the issues of racism in this country and by my friends who are in law enforcement.
In such situations, I tend to turn to the words of others. Or stay silent. It feels … safer.
(Which is a bit ironic and sad, I know.)
But I can’t stay silent because people who I care about are hurting today.
People like my new friend Danielle.
Danielle and her husband have two children who are mixed-race. They’re the most adorable boys. Her post was the first one I read on Facebook this morning, and she’s given me permission to share it.
“Periodically we stop by or walk my oldest Jack to see the police cars and fire trucks, one [because] like most kids his age he thinks they are cool, and two because I’m trying to keep him safe. We tell them things like… “Boys, someday when you are driving like mommy and daddy do, or if you are just walking around, when you see a police car, if it asks you to stop, always Just say yes sir and keep your hands visible on the steering wheel or still and on your head if you get pulled over or stopped (and then we practice).”
And then we practice.
Let that sink in a moment.
As you do, consider this:
Danielle’s oldest boy is TWO YEARS OLD.
Who is practicing what to do if he gets pulled over.
It should outrage everyone — EVERYONE — that we are living in a world where a 2 year old child needs to practice what to do if he gets pulled over by a police officer.
It certainly outrages me.
Because this precious two year old boy — and his 10 month old brother — should not have this as their reality.
Their parents shouldn’t have conversations like these with their toddlers, as Danielle tells her boys.
“You keep all your car stuff up to date, and you pay the fines. You wear a belt like daddy so your pants don’t sag. You wear clothing that fits you always, and never a hoodie. You keep your teeth white and your body tattoo free. And then you be quiet unless they ask you a question. And you always have your mom and dads phone numbers memorized. Tell any passengers to video your talk completely…. And pray baby boy.” This is what I’m doing with my 2.5 year old and it makes me sick. I’m doing it because I feel I have to, to try to keep my kids remotely prepared and safe.”
That’s all any of us want to do for our kids. To keep them safe. And, it goes without saying, alive.
I may not know the right words to say about this horrible injustice, but you know who else doesn’t?
A two year old boy.
The one who is practicing.
This is post #39 of 99 of my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.