When I was 19 and pregnant I remember praying, “Dear God please let me have a boy.” For weeks I only looked at baby boy things and had picked out a boy name. I was convinced that raising a son would be easier than a daughter especially if I was going to be a single mother. I thought about the challenges my mother faced raising me and the things I went through during adolescence. I just couldn’t imagine the emotional rollercoaster ride that I believed came with raising a girl. Boys break hearts and girls get their hearts broken. Boys also break the hearts of their mothers.
Months later I gave birth to a beautiful girl. Today I am the mother of two girls, both daughters.
It breaks for the son I once dreamed of, the son I foolishly thought would make my life easier. It breaks for the children I serve in the community, children who feel like mine. (As a mother it often feels like the nations children’s are mine regardless of their skin color). It breaks when I realize that people I thought were my friends uphold the same ideals that have resulted in a broken system. A system that wasn’t designed to serve justice to black people.
In a way that almost feels cruel, I find myself thanking God that he didn’t give me a son. Because I couldn’t imagine sitting beside him watching the news as an underlying message that says “YOU DON’T MATTER” is shouted from across news stations.
I couldn’t imagine giving birth to a son and praying that he makes it to adulthood not because I fear illnesses and freak accidents but because I fear the justice system will continue to fail us. Knowing that each time he walks out the door he is likely to be profiled and judged. I wouldn’t want to have to explain to him the reality that he cannot afford to make the same careless mistakes that his white counterparts make because they can cost him his life.
I couldn’t imagine wondering if I would be able to cheer for him from the bleachers at his first game or from the front row at an academic decathlon. I can’t imagine wondering if I will get to watch his father tie his tie on prom night or see him walk across the stage to get his diploma. I can’t imagine holding my breath each night until he walks in the door.
I couldn’t imagine sending him off into a world that holds little to no regard for his life. I couldn’t imagine teaching him things like don’t make eye contact with a police officer or to avoid wearing hoodies or walk around in white neighborhoods. I wonder if I would encourage him to become a part of the law in hopes that he wouldn’t be at risk of being a victim of it.
Today I am disgusted, disheartened and grateful that I don’t have a son.
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