It’s been really hard for me to figure out what to write
lately, because I feel like the thing I need to talk about is Ferguson.
But I don’t want to talk about these things because
nobody will think differently.
will just evaluate what I say against their own firmly-entrenched beliefs, and,
if they agree with it, support it, and if they disagree with it, give me ten
thousand reasons why mentioning racism is, in fact, racist, and “thugs” deserve
it, and, implicitly, that black people are shiftless, lazy leaches, and a drain
Yes, I’ve heard it all
So, I’m not going to talk about it.
Here’s what I’m going to talk about instead:
When my son turned 16 and got his license, I sat him down
and had a talk with him.
“If you’re ever
pulled over,” I said, “you need to put your hands where the officer can see
You need to say, ‘yes, sir,’ and
You need to keep your voice
Did I say this because I was
worried about his manners?
His manners are beautiful.
But my son is mixed, and it is a fact that
black people are more likely to be pulled over and arrested than white
Now some may say, “That’s because they’re more likely to be
doing bad things.”
How do you know that?
If white people aren’t being checked, then
how do we know anything about the good or bad things they’re doing?
But none of that matters to me.
What matters to me is keeping my son safe. And I felt, as a mother, that I had
to say this.
And when my son went to college, I said to him – in fact I
wrote it in this blog
– “If you are at a party and the police show up, you WILL
Did I say that because I
questioned his ability to be responsible in college?
Not at all.
I said it because he is mixed, and I know that, when there’s a group of
people, the immediate suspect is the black guy.
And because I wanted my son to be safe, I gave him that
I told him that his right
to speak his mind, to question the police, to in any way contradict them….well,
he didn’t have that right.
police don’t like being talked back to by black people.
Everyone knows that.
And you may be saying, “You’re just paranoid.”
Except that I’m not.
My son has gotten pulled over plenty of times
for no reason.
He was subject to a Terry
frisk at college, for the suspicious behavior of standing with a backpack.
He’s a good kid, but he has to have the same
wariness, the same watchfulness, the same worry as any black person, because….well,
because people fear black people, and people distrust people, and black people
are subject to a different standard than white people.
All black people.
I’m not talking about Ferguson.
I’m not talking about Cleveland.
I’m not talking about Brooklyn.
I’m talking about a kid who was kicked out of
a friend’s house by a drunk mother who didn’t want a black kid in her
A kid who has to listen to the
“I’m not racist, but since I’m white, and I’ve never experienced racism, you
haven’t either,” from his own relatives.
A kid who, were he murdered by the police, would be called a “thug” by countless
morons on the internet.
about my son.