Is Today the Day?

From the day my son was born I have had a sick feeling in the bottom of my belly. Truthfully it began while I was pregnant. Pure unadulterated fear and anxiety of knowing that black mommas don’ t have the luxury of knowing the day nor the time that our sons transition from being cute to a threat in the United States. My son is coming up on his 8thbirthday. He’s an avid reader, takes Tae Kwon Do, loves to swim, has the absolute sweetest spirit and demeanor. But he’s also in the 90thpercentile for height, which means most people think he’s older than he is. That alone scares the living daylights out of me.

17-year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a white vigilantly neighborhood watchman in his own neighborhood on February 26, 2012. At the time my only son was 7 months old. I remember the resounding fear that I felt for my son. I don’t know another chocolate mom that has not lived with this unsettling angst every day of their son’s lives. I understand this is a concept difficult for our vanilla mommas to comprehend. Each day when my husband and son leave my home I say an extra prayer for their safe return. Why, because 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by a policeman playing in the park across the street from his home for playing with a toy gun. Well guess what, my son likes toy soldiers, Pokémon’, slime and toy guns too.

Today my son participated in an away swim meet. I was there and volunteered as a turn judge. Now volunteering as a judge is a shared responsibility for swim parents. It requires concentration on the match which sometimes means you leave your own children for other team moms to look after in between events. This is the second year my children have participated on this mostly white summer swim team. Our families see each other a total of four days a week. You can’t spend that amount of time and not become loosely familiar with one another.

During the meet I glance over at a table and see my daughter, son and one of my daughter’s teammates sitting at a table sharing a bag of pretzels. I smile at the kind gesture of my daughter’s friend to share her family’s snacks. A few moments later the young girl is beckoned by the coach for her event and my daughter follows to cheer her on. This meant the bag of pretzels she’d brought was left on the table with my son.

Now remember, I’m judging so I have to watch the match, which usually takes anywhere from :45 seconds to 1 minute. When the race is over my son tugs my right leg and says “momma, I think so and so’s mom is mad at me and thinks I stole their bag of pretzels.” So I ask for more detail and he says that during the match the mom and her son approached the table, snatched the bag from the table and told him “these don’t belong to you, they are ours.”

At this moment, the next match is about to begin and I can’t address it. So, I tell my son to go get his sister and I’ll deal with it when the meet is over. This is a teammates mom. So she at least knows we are on the same team. And here’s where there’s a divide and difference among mothers in this country. I am now concerned on a level my Caucasian mothers wouldn’t have to be. It would be nice to think of this as a misunderstanding without consequence. But I don’t have this luxury. See there are Permit Patty’s out there waiting for moments like this to call the police and proclaim my son a thief. This type of implicit biased could cost my 8-year old son his life. Yes, it’s just that serious to me.

By the end of the match her well meaning daughter had explained that she offered my children the pretzels and the mom has apologized to my children. When I approach, she says “Your children are so sweet. I’m so sorry, I just looked up and saw our bag of pretzels on the other table and went to get them. I think I frightened him when I took them back.”

I accepted her apology and remind her that my children are not thieves and leave. In the car on the 30-minute ride home, I have to explain to my children why they cannot share things the same way their other “friends” can and how dangerous situations like that can be. Plus, it’s totally unnecessary because my children need and want for absolutely nothing “so if someone offers you something, just politely decline.”

So here’s my question, would the mom have reacted the same if my son looked different? Some would think I’ve put too much thought into it, but what I know for sure is that I can’t afford not to.

Tomorrow I will bring that “team mom” a super sized bag of pretzels with a bow on it.

But maybe today’s the day that my Hershey has gone from cute to a threat.

Chocolate Mothers everywhere pray for our sons

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Black Flight

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What happens when America’s best and brightest African Americans feel unsafe, unwanted and disrespected? They leave. Oh sure, for years white supremacist have been spewing “go back to Africa,” but what will happen to this country when we really do? Okay, so not all of us are landing bomb jobs in the motherland, but I know quite a few highly educated African Americans that are choosing to give those racists just what they asked for.

So exactly how many of us are working and living abroad? It’s a tough question since the United States doesn’t formally track how many Americans leave the US either temporarily or permanently. But I do know that a number of people of color in my circle are teaching or in school administration abroad. Some are starting businesses and taking their families with them. I personally know folks that are working in Japan, United Arab Emeritas, and South Africa.

Every time I have to say goodbye to a friend, I am thoroughly happy and excited for them. I’m excited about the surge of African Americans becoming global citizens in every sense of the word. And I totally get it. It becomes more and more difficult to fight the same fight with the same folks either denying a problem or straight up shooting people of color in the streets.

When I was younger I remember my dad talking about how African American soldiers were treated so much better in other countries. And I remember asking then, “why didn’t they stay?” The truth is, some did. Now this is not to say that people of color do not experience racism abroad. Of course we do and to be honest it has a lot to do with how our own country treats us. Those fallacies about us being lazy and uneducated perpetuates across country lines. The bigoted television programs and storylines that America has syndicated don’t help. Writing us out of storylines can be just as harmful. But what does help and is when African Americans visit, work and live in other countries and introduce our culture.

I got love for the United States of America. It’s my home. It’s the country my husband, daddy, uncles and countless other family members signed up to protect, fought for and died for. It’s where we raise our family and give back to our community. But America is hardheaded and refuses to deal with real issues that have infected it like a cancer. Racism in America will be its downfall if not dealt with head on.

Kudos to all the talented African Americans choosing to use their genius where they feel safe, wanted and respected even if it means using their passport to get there. I ain’t mad at you and we are certainly not opposed.