I am a bi-racial mother married to a black man.
When we have children, we expect to have certain conversations with them. We prepare ourselves to talk to them about the differences in cultures and skin tones, because they are curious little beings.
They want to know why their hair is curlier and their eye color maybe deeper then their friends’.
We planned for all of these questions and shot off answers smoothly, but after Trayvon Martin’s attack, the conversations became significantly more difficult.
Several days after the Mike Brown shooting, I took my son to school only to find out that it was closed. Running behind, I knew that if I took my son all the way home I would not make it to work on time. So we agreed that I would take him as far as the bus stop a couple of blocks from our home.
The whole way there I found myself running down a list of things that he should do if stopped by the police.
I wasn’t worried about the people in our neighborhood; we knew them.
All I could think of was if some squad pulled up on him, what was going to keep him safe—how could he let them know he was safe?
I made him repeat it back to me, “Keep my hands where they can see them. Tell them my name and my age and that I am around the corner from my house. Answer any questions that they ask of me quickly and loud enough so they can hear me without getting out of the car. And be respectful—always be respectful.”
As he ran off, I stepped onto the bus with my heart in my throat and tears streaming down my face.
It was one of those moments when you realize your reality has been altered forever.
I held my breath until my husband texted me and let me know that my son had made it home safely, then I opened my phone and wrote this poem:
At some point in time, I read an article
About how to love a Black Man
It said to love him hard and prompt him softly
Because the rest of the world
Was constantly screaming in his face
No one told me though how to love
A Black Boy
You see he is stamped at birth with
A bias from society
His hair carries in its coils
The continued injustice of a nation
You find yourself teaching him
To protect himself against bigotry
Imposed by someone else’s
No one told me that in order
To love a black boy
I would have to breathe wind
To cool the flames of racism
That constantly try to consume him
Just so he can grow up
Like any other boy.
Author: Keshia Smith
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Author’s Own