I'm Terrified & Angry That Raising My Black Sons to Obey the Law Isn't Enough to Save Them

african sick little boy lying in bed with his mother praying on background

As I sit here in silence, and reflect on all the events that have transpired in the last 48 hours, all I can think about are my 2- and 1-year-old boys. They're watching Sesame Street right now and enjoying snacks -- without any knowledge of the harsh reality they'll soon face: navigating life in this country as black men. In a single day, the world saw video of Alton Sterling being shot to death by police and then, not 24 hours later, the graphic footage of Philando Castile, killed for reaching for his wallet during a traffic stop. To say I fear for the safety of my sons is an understatement.


"Don't raise them to be criminals."

"Don't commit crimes, or resist arrest, and you won't get killed."

I. Am. Tired. I am tired of this double standard in our society that allows mass shooters -- like James Holmes, who killed 12 and injured 70, in Aurora, Colorado; and Dylann Roof, who killed nine inside a South Carolina church, because he hated blacks -- to see their day in court, while others like Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and a long list of people of color are killed, without the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.

You can't tell me it's "proper procedure" to shoot a man multiple times at close range -- who was already pinned on the ground and was not going for a gun that is legal to carry in Louisiana without a permit. You can't tell me Alton Sterling deserved to get shot to death by police twice before a pause and then more shots, because cops were responding to an anonymous 911 caller who said a man was threatening people with a gun. (Store owner Abdullah Muflahi, who knew Sterling for the six years that Sterling sold CDs in front of his establishment, told the cops it wasn't him.)

And now I have to think about my children and my husband being pulled over for a busted taillight, and reportedly being shot four times for reaching for ID an officer asked for?

Listen ...

You can label me as a militant, "angry black woman" who hates cops all you want. As the daughter of a retired police sergeant, who was raised to observe and honor those behind the badge, I can't let this go.

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There's an unshakable fear that I constantly try to push out of the forefront of my mind for the sake of not having "a chip on my shoulder" and for promoting a society where "all lives matter." And yet, there are endless rude awakenings that bring me back to the nightmare that I pray I, or any of my fellow parents, never have to experience.

God forbid my black sons find themselves involved in an incident with police -- including being racially profiled. Will their assumed physical threat become justification for their homicide?

I don't know, and that makes me scared.

Like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I too live in a state where open and concealed carry is allowed -- and that makes me even more fearful for my family. As a gun owner, I can say my kids sure as hell won't ever have a weapon on them while they're living in this house. But what happens when my boys become men, and are legally allowed to exercise their second amendment right, should they choose to do so? Will they not make it home to their families if a cop stops them and sees a gun? 

Every time there's a shooting like this in the news, I have a lengthy discussion with my father in search of clarity. As a retired police sergeant, even he is baffled as to why certain men and women of the law still have badges.

No matter my anger and frustration at events like these shootings, there's always a piece of me that feels like it dies every time my father brings up having "the talk" with his grandsons once they get older. No, my dad does not plan on discussing the birds and the bees, but how to interact with a police officer, and make it home ... alive.

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I can't begin to describe the amount of worry and helplessness I feel at times. Yes, my sons are adorable right now. (We can't go anywhere without someone going out of his or her way to mention it.) But, what happens when their squishy cheeks and baby fat start to melt away? Thinking about all the potentially harmful situations they can find themselves in (going to a friend's house in a predominately white neighborhood, being the only black kid in their "squad," or even moving to a more affluent area, because we have the means to do so) -- and ways I can try to protect them -- keeps me up at night.

In a society that supposedly promotes equality, no parents should ever feel the need to prep their children for harmful events just because of their skin color, gender, sexuality, religion, or anything else that appears "threatening" or dissimilar.

No matter how much I try to reassure myself that I will raise gentlemen who would never find themselves in sticky situations with the law, I'm not ignorant to the fact that profiling can and will happen to the best of men -- including my husband. There have been many times when he's been stopped and searched for "being different" in the neighborhood where he owns a home. (Maybe black men who are aerospace engineers and wear khakis and polo shirts look threatening, or suspicious.)

When the same sh** happens only to him -- while others, who aren't black, are also nearby -- it becomes pretty hard not to think about race.

More from CafeMom: Asking for Police Accountability Isn't Racist or Anti-Cop -- It's Fair

As thankful as I am to live in the United States and be the daughter of a cop, there remain certain realities that are too deadly not to discuss. And rather than brush off these unthinkable deaths by bringing up a victim's past to justify his or her execution -- and rather than becoming one of those people quick to point out homicides in predominately black neighborhoods, without so much as giving a damn about those who have perished, and without trying to be part of the solution -- all I can do is pray, and continue to get involved in my surrounding communities.

I will raise my sons to obey and respect the law. I just hope to God that's enough to keep them safe.


Image via michaeljung/Shutterstock

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