Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ferguson: I was so wrong!

When we left San Diego for Guam, Michael and Isaac were 10 and 12.  
They were still considered boys.

When Trayvon Martin was murdered in February of 2012, 
Isaac had just turned 12 and Michael was 14 1/2 and starting to look less like a boy.
Trayvon was just 2 weeks past his 17th birthday.

As we prepared to leave Guam in May 2013 to come back to the states, the trial for Trayvon's killer was about to begin.  
Isaac was 13 and not looking to boyish anymore.  
Michael was weeks away from 15 and he no longer looked like a boy at all.  

As the trial continued over all forms of news media, I churned ideas in my mind for  hours on end.  I had made a terrible, possibly FATAL error in parenting the boys.  How to share my failure in a blog post has been churning in my mind for over a year.  And now we are here again, with Ferguson, and so, although I still don't know how my thoughts will be received, I can not remain silent. 

First of all:  if you are white.  You have an advantage (yes, still) in our society.
I've been called paranoid and over-sensative, and mostly by family members, 
but it's true - even if you don't want to admit it.  

I watch how people see my boys when they don't know I am their mother.  
I see employees "watching them" more in electronics stores.
I HEAR what people say in a group of white people when they don't know I have black sons.  
I go from emotions of complete sadness, fear, and a rage, deep inside my core, that unchecked, makes people burn cars and smash in windows.  

Secondly:  my big mistake:
I always told the boys that it didn't matter that their skin was brown, or different than mine.  I loved them (I STILL LOVE THEM!)  so very, very much.  We surrounded them with friends that felt like we did.  
WHO CARES if you look like your parents?!  
It's boring to all look the same!  
You are more special because you were chosen!  
While those things are true for us and our friends and family, it's not true outside the safety net of those who love us.  

It rocked me to my core when the realization sunk in and George Zimmerman, (a civilian who chased down and MURDERED a teenager running AWAY from him) was found not guilty of second-degree murder.  If you don't know, the "thing" that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon messing with in the pocket of his hoodie was a bag of Skittles.  

While I have some unspoken advantages as a white person in society, this is one area that my black friends have over me in raising their sons.  They already knew what slapped me in the face, 
because they have lived it, and I had not.  

Why didn't I tell them that it matters?  Why didn't I teach them how to be more careful?  Why didn't I say - you can't wear a hoodie inside the mall if your cold because your black?   Why did I say keep your hands out of your pockets in a store?    

Protecting someone from hard things about life by not talking about it.... 
doesn't protect them at all.   

Now we talk about it all.....

Martin Luther King Jr.  

God help us!