Dear White Parents, My Black Son and Husband Need You Right Now

Sandra Bland. Treyvon Martin. Mike Brown. Breonna Taylor. Keith Childress. Bettie Jones. Kevin Matthews. Michael Noel. Roy Nelson. Terrence Crutcher. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Walter Scott. Eric Harris. Tony Robinson. Rumain Brisbon. Tamir Rice. Laquan McDonald. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. 

All of the people listed above have been wrongly and unnecessarily killed. Whose name will be next? This is a question that I absolutely should not have to ask, yet I do almost every day. What will happen if my husband is walking into work when it’s dark in the mornings? How do I stop the white kids from pulling on my son’s hair at daycare? What neighborhood is safest for us to buy a house so that my son can walk home from his friend’s house safely?

Can he even walk home from his friend’s house safely?

I grew up on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio in a small town that was predominantly white but had a good mix of races too. During junior high and high school, my classes were filled with people from all walks of life, but my parents taught my three older sisters and me early on that we had to be twice as well-behaved, polite, and on time, as our white classmates. Growing up Black, you are often already at a disadvantage just for the color of your skin and so there is little to no room to act unruly or walk into class late. Why? Because you never know when you’ll be targeted for something seemingly small because you’re Black.

I woke up today tired.

 

 

My exhaustion didn’t come from being up all night with a 15-month-old but rather because my mind won’t stop racing about what happened in Minneapolis to George Floyd and what has happened in cities all over the country through protests and riots. I’m tired of almost not being shocked when another Black person dies at the hands of their own community or police force. I’m tired of having to explain how I feel about the circumstances to my white friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I’m tired of having to put yet another example in my book to one day explain to my son Oliver why, if he gets pulled over by the police, he must abide by every single thing that officer says or he might lose his life.

I’m tired that I have to tell my husband that he can’t go for runs early in the morning or late in the evenings because I need him here safely at home with me and not dead because someone was scared of him in our neighborhood. I’m tired of wondering if my husband will be targeted while out at the store while wearing a mask during these COVID-19 times because a Black man with a mask on is just a disaster waiting to happen.

 

I’m tired of having to explain how I feel about the circumstances to my white friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I’m tired of having to put yet another example in my book to one day explain to my son Oliver why, if he gets pulled over by the police, he must abide by every single thing that officer says or he might lose his life.

 

White parents, can’t you see? I’m so, so tired.

While what’s happening in the world is in response to one man’s death, it represents all Black men. Every time a Black man dies unnecessarily, we, the Black community, become more and more fearful of those around us. We start second-guessing every word we say, every time we must get into the car, every vacation we want to go on, each time we’re out with our white friends, each time a police officer walks by us.

Can you imagine, white parents, how exhausting it is to plan out everything perfectly so that you don’t make any missteps and end up in danger?

 

 

Have you ever had to do such extensive research about a vacation destination to see if your race was widely accepted on the beaches, at the restaurants, or at the hotels?

 

Can you imagine, white parents, how exhausting it is to plan out everything perfectly so that you don’t make any missteps and end up in danger?

 

In October 2019, my husband and I went on our babymoon to enjoy a little getaway in Michigan before our son arrived. It was a cute little town, like something you’d see in Gilmore Girls, and we rented a cute little waterfront cottage. By the end of our trip, we were so ready to head home due to how uncomfortable we felt as a Black couple. When we’d walk up and down streets looking at the cute shops, or if we ventured into a restaurant for dinner, we’d get stares from other vacationers. What I once hoped would be a cute place we could frequently return once Oliver was born has turned into an uncomfortable memory.

This is what life is like for us. Think about that.

White parents, we, Black families, need you right now.

We need you to care enough about our Black lives to change what’s happening.

We need you to show up and peacefully protest the wrongdoings of others.

We need you to speak up at your playdates, parent happy hours, and in your group texts.

We need you to speak to your children about race, discrimination, and white privilege.

We need you to challenge racism with your relatives, coworkers, and friends.

We need you to stop feeling threatened by the presence of a black body.

We need you to teach your children the acceptance of children and people from all walks of life.

 

 

My son is 15 months old. If you lived nearby, we may pass each other at daycare drop-off or pick-up, at the park with the open field and fun playground, or maybe our kids would one day go to school together. As you continue to learn more about the horrible deaths and what you can do to make a difference, I urge you to begin with your own family. Be the person your kid thinks you are and raise them better than you were raised.

For my husband’s life, for my son’s life, for the lives of so many other People of Color—this is what we need right now.

 

Read More: Not Sure How to Talk to Your Kids About Race? Here’s How to Start

 

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