Friday, December 8, 2023

Perception is Everything.

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( I look at them both and marvel that I was blessed to have them. Giving birth to children is a blessing and privilege that not every woman gets to enjoy. I have seen countless videos and heard numerous stories of women who have been trying their entire marriage (no matter how long) to conceive and it finally happens or did not. It is a moment of jubilation especially if it has been a prolonged period between when you started trying and when you finally got pregnant.

As a black mother, it is a feat when you give birth to a son. Now I am not saying that having daughters is not stressful. I have seen black daughters being raised and obviously experienced being one. However, it hits different. When you are charged with helping to raise a king, you realize the enormous burden placed upon you. When I see my boys, KP and Lil, I see the paths that they could go down if they are a certain type of man. Do I like to do it? Honestly, no. It stresses me out to the max. Thinking about all that could happen to them if I am not careful with my parenting skills or if they make one mistake and it follows them around for the rest of their lives. As a mother, I send myself into a frenzy thinking about what my boys are going to be like when they are their own man, and I am just the little old lady they love.


I take the same care and time to think about how others will perceive them. When the boys and I go out, the first thing that anybody ever says about them is how adorable/cute they are. My boys are cooed at and told how handsome they are and are going to be. Passersby stop to make conversation and always remark at how full of life or energetic they are. They also marvel at their sizes for their ages as they are between average and above average for growth, respectively. I am not afraid to say that either of my son’s smiles could light up the darkest corner of a room.

However, I know that one day those faces that express how beautiful they are will be the same voices that will be afraid of them. Those same looks of astonishment at how big my ten-month-old will be tinged with terror when he is 10 years old and could easily pass for a teenager. These are the thoughts that I have going through my head when I look at my boys. I also look at the lessons that I will have to teach them if I want them to come home.

The extra steps that young black men must take just to go outside to catch the bus is exhausting. There’s someone telling them to pull up their pants, take off the hoodie, cut their hair, and that’s just for appearance. Not to mention they will be told to not be so angry about everything even though their entire manhood might be questioned with one word. They are seen as less qualified before they have even opened their mouths. Seen as less intelligent because many of our sons chose to listen before they speak. I’m just an onlooker and I’m tired for them. My sons have yet to start the daily struggle of choosing between their manhood and blackness in precarious situations especially at work. These social dichotomies extend to law enforcement as we know all too well.

The fact that there are two different systems of policing for different communities in this country still seems to baffle many who are not persons of color. The lessons that my co-worker will have to teach his baby boy are those of not those that I will have to teach KP and Lil. How do you teach someone to not be a threat? There seems to be an inherent bias among some officers across the country that dictates blacks are more aggressive and must be dealt with in a harsh manner. My sons in relation to the police were a social juxtaposition that I never thought of us until George Floyd and Ronald Greene. Two cases that have shaken the country to their core. George Floyd death hit close to home because he was killed in broad daylight with an audience as he called for his mother. Being a child, I understood his pain. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in intense pain since my mother has passed and her name was the first name I called. For both situations, I am a mother and felt the loss of them more deeply because of it. Their mothers pain became my own when I looked at my boys. I cannot even begin to fathom that pain, the searing dull ache of losing one of the only people who know what your heart sounds like from the inside. However, when I heard both men cry out, I reflexively wanted to reach out and hold them as a mother would. Stop the pain and spirit them away as only a mother can.

How am I supposed to teach my sons that there are good cops? How am I supposed to teach my son that public servants are there for your safety? What can I teach them to make sure they come home? As we have seen lately our relationship with the police has devolved from just listen and comply. We can see unmistakable evidence that when black men are stopped just complying seems to expediate their demise.

So, what am I to teach my boys?

I choose to teach them to be the best human beings that they can be. I choose to teach my boys that their existence is not an affront to anyone else. I must teach them that they are just a valuable, talented, and as worthy as anybody else.

Staff Writer; Monika Rambeaux


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