“I cannot protect you from everything, I cannot protect you”
It was the worst thing, that I have ever said to my son.
A few days ago, I found out that my son did something bad. I wont go into details about it, but he was lucky that the result turned out the way it did, because it could have gotten disastrous and even deadly.
I explained to him why what he did was wrong and asked for his motive behind it. Afterwards, I had to give him the bitter truth. I started by asking,
“Do you know that you’re black?”
“Do you know what that means?”
I usually don’t have many race talks with my kids…I always get nervous about the right way to have these conversations. Of course you want your kids to know that we’re all the same, we’re all equal. But the world doesn’t even recognize this fact yet. So I had to just come out with it.
I told him, no matter what age you are, you will be seen as a black man and people will fear you. So when you give people an extra reason to be afraid, you put yourself in danger. And sometimes that dangerous situation can go very bad, very fast and there may not be a chance to fix it. Me or grandma or your uncle Norman or even the police also may not be able to fix it.
Once I mentioned the police, of course I had to go into more detail about the police and how many young boys are getting killed and that whole deal. I told him, if you’re right or wrong, do as they say, know what you’re meant to do and not meant to do, know your rights and be nice about it. I will teach you your rights, because you’re going to need to know them like you know the pledge of allegiance. Even if you do all of that it still may be too late.
That’s when I told not only him but also myself, that I could not protect him.
I ended the conversation there.
For a moment I needed that to sink in for him. For a moment I needed him to realize that this is not a “scare straight” tactic, this is reality.
That thought, that me as a parent, cannot protect my own child, broke me down…
That thought made me think of all the mistakes I made with the kids…
That thought made me think of all the parents who probably had this conversation with their children and their babies still ended up getting killed…
That thought scared the shit out of me…
I grabbed my son who had tears streaming down his face at this point. I held him, I bursted into tears, I sobbed into his shoulder and I kept repeating I’m sorry.
I was in pain. I needed to hear reality come out my mouth more than he did. I needed to acknowledge that I really cannot protect him from everything. I needed to see that I was telling my nice, sweet, loving child, that he is now a threat to other people.
Later on, we got into an uber and our driver mentioned the protesters on the streets of Chicago, that they wanted Rahm to resign, it reminded me that there is hope.
Once my son and I were alone, I mentioned to him that BLM are fighting for police to protect us and not kill us. I told him that us as individuals have to stand up for our own rights but for now, we have to play it safe.