Out Of Sight, Out of Mind: Why White Moms Need to Care About Murdered Black Children
Unless you’ve been under a rock the last few days, you’ve probably heard about the current situation going on in Ferguson, Missouri. Long story very short, a police officer killed unarmed Black teenager, Mike Brown. If you haven’t heard of Mike Brown, maybe you’ve heard of Eric Garner or John Crawford? Both unarmed Black men killed by the police. Oh and then there’s Ezell Ford another unarmed Black man killed by police at a peaceful protest in LA. Maybe these stories are too new for you. Have you heard of Sean Bell or Oscar Grant? Maybe you think it’s just trigger happy police officers, but then there’s Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, etc (yes because the list goes on and on) all unarmed and all killed by white people for “looking suspicious,” “playing loud music,” and “asking for help after a car accident.”
On my private Facebook page, I’ve been publicly asking my “white friends” to speak up and speak out against the racial injustices that are currently taking place. I reposted my post from Black History Month and quoted this particular section:
“I am tired of the silence of mothers of other races on this subject because they are too afraid to delve into race. I am tired of the only lives being valued having little to no melanin. These are BOYS dying… BOYS being killed because their very existence makes GROWN WHITE MEN fearful. What if these were white teenage boys? What if it was your fiance gunned down the night before your wedding? What if it was your boyfriend/father of your child shot while handcuffed and laying face down? Would it matter then? Would there be national days of silence or calls for changes to gun reform across the blogsphere for those people? Or are guns only bad when used on innocent white children?
Your silence makes me not trust you. Your silence makes me feel like you do not care about the future of my brown boy. Your silence breaks my heart.”
Aside from the fact that I consider some of the people who have been silent on this issue friends, I’m urging white moms to stand up because and this is gonna sound harsh…
Because simply put your fathers, husbands, and sons are killing our fathers, husbands, and sons.
I know what you’re going to say, but…
… I don’t see race.
… I’m not racist.
… No one in my family is racist.
… I have a Black friend.
… I’m raising my children to be color-blind.
… My father, husband, and sons wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Maybe it’s not “your” husband, father, or son, but I’m pretty sure the mothers and wives of the officers who killed Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and Mike Brown felt the same way. I’m sure that the woman who raised Theodore Wafer, who murdered Renisha McBride, didn’t think she was raising a murder. I’m sure just like you they taught them to be kind to all people and to be upstanding citizens. I’m sure they didn’t talk about race because hey it’s not that big of a deal anymore, right?
Wrong! To start raising your children to be color-blind is insulting. There is no shame in being a person of color, and saying that you don’t see my color means you don’t really see me. You don’t see my history. You don’t see my culture. You don’t see the daily struggles that my skin color causes. You’re not helping me. Honestly you’re helping yourself when you say you don’t see color. It means you don’t have to acknowledge the privileges that your skin color affords you. It’s easier to parent this way because then you don’t have to teach your children about racism. You aren’t forced to have hard conversations.
It also means that your children grow up never truly seeing their privilege, and seeing no reason to fight against systematic/institutional racism. It means that the only things they learn about race come from the biased media (ie television and movies).
They’ll go to college and ask a Black person “if they have friends who sell crack.” (Yes, that happened to me and no he wasn’t from the south he was from California). They’ll sit in a classroom and say that they know that racial stereotypes are wrong, but they can’t help being afraid when they see a Black man at night because Black people are dangerous according to the news. And since they grew up in a color-blind house where race was never discussed, they’ll just take what’s fed to them as the truth on the matter.
They’ll say things like “well you’re not like other Black people” or “I don’t see you as Black, Danielle you’re just a person.” They won’t get why that’s offensive.
They’ll call in that “suspicious” Black man to the police, who just might shoot and kill him, when all he needed was help after getting in a car accident. (ex. Johnathan Ferrell killed by Charlotte police officer Randall Kerrick)
Or the person calling it in will be a neighborhood watchmen, who takes matters into his own hands, stalks the kid, and kills him. (ex. Trayvon Martin killed by George Zimmerman)
Or they’ll see a Black man playing with a toy gun in Walmart and call the police, who will gun him down in the toy section. (ex. John Crawford killed by Ohio Police)
But this is okay… (google image search Target and gun rifles it’s seriously disturbing)
All of these women and men are openly carrying rifles in Target in support of open carry, and none of them ended up dead. This is white privilege, when only a certain demographic is allowed to do something without it raising suspicion it’s PRIVILEGE!
There is no amount of parenting that I can do that will stop my son from falling victim to these type of racial prejudices. No amount of good parenting can stop someone from being killed by a stray bullet, and certainly not the police. I can teach my son how to comply and to lie face down, and they can still shoot him in his back. I can tell him to raise his hands and never walk around with a gun, and he can still be shot by police.
But there is something you can do… you can start having these discussions early. You can teach your children about systemic and institutional racism, so that they can become allies. So that when they join the police force, they can fight against racial profiling. Or when they see a Black person with a hoodie, it’s just a Black person in a hoodie, not a criminal.
It’s time for ALL MOMS to stand up and say no more! It’s time for ALL moms to tackle the tough subjects!
Before I said that “Your silence makes me not trust you. Your silence makes me feel like you do not care about the future of my brown boy. Your silence breaks my heart.”
Now I am saying your silence is killing our children. Your silence is killing our husbands. Your silence is killing our brothers. Your silence is killing our daughters. Your silence is killing our nephews. Your silence is killing our nieces. Your silence is killing US!!!!
Update (Aug 19,2014): I’ve responded to some of the frequent questions and concerns in a second post “Why I Said White Moms And Answers to Other Questions”
Update (Aug 20, 2014): Since the dialogue in the comment section is no longer productive, the comments sections has been closed. If you would like to continue this conversation in a productive manner, feel free to head over to Mamademics on FB and do so. This will prevent people from hiding behind guests accounts where they can say rude, nasty, and condescending things.
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