I had "the talk" with my kids this morning in the car. Not the "birds and the bees" talk. The "how to stay alive because you're black and therefore a threat" talk. Don't wear that dark gray hoodie you love anymore. Make eye contact with authorities at all times - forget everything I've ever taught you about how forced eye contact is a bad thing...do it anyway, even if it hurts. Speak in a soft, gentle tone. Keep your hands where they can see them at all times. No sudden or unexpected movements and ABSOLUTELY no stimming or fidgeting or flapping as it might be perceived as attempting to strike someone. No echolalia, as it might be perceived as trying to "mock" an officer. No going to the mall with a group of friends if more than two people are male-presenting and of color. Say "yes, sir," and "no, sir" with each statement. No nervous laughter. No sarcasm. Do everything that they ask of you even if it is unlawful. If they want to know your name, age, shoe size, whatever - just tell them. If they violate your rights we will file a complaint after the fact, but do not address it with them in the moment. If they hit you, shout at you, insult you, spit on you, just take it. We will seek justice for the wrongdoing through the legal channels. Don't put yourself at risk by trying to stand up for yourself.
Just take it.
They listened quietly. Asked me if it was okay to just run away. Inwardly I kicked myself for forgetting to mention running. "No," I replied. "Absolutely no running."
"Yes?" I asked.
"I'd probably be nervous, Mom. I don't think I would be able to keep from moving and remember to keep my voice a certain way and remember to say 'sir' and all of those things. Will I still be okay? They know I'm just a kid."
Good point, I thought. I'd probably be too nervous to keep from stimming myself if it was me. And DO they know you're just a kid? I wondered silently. You are close to 12 year old Tamir Rice's age. He was just a kid too. It didn't save him.
"Um hum, kiddo?"
"You didn't answer. Will I still be okay?"
Will you? Will you? For the love of God, I hope so. I hope so. But I don't know for sure.
"I hope so, sweetie. I think so, yes."
I just died a little - no, a lot - inside.
|Image is a group of young black boys standing near a curb holding protest signs that state "Am I Next? (Photo credit: Afro dot com)|