Today's post is shared with permission from the author, Jessica Tabbert. A friend of mine shared it yesterday on Facebook. All I know about Ms. Tabbert is that she is local and she is a mother. Motherhood transcends race, ethnicity, nationality, economic status. Her words could be the words of any mother who loves her child.
Just read. Please. Read, and understand that her child is our child. Her fears should be all our fears. We must make it our responsibility. We cannot be silent.
My son is 6'2", heavyset, and he has beautiful brown skin. I have to look up to speak to him when he's standing next to me. He is only 16 years old but he has facial hair, big hands and feet, and is slightly taller than my husband and my brothers, all who are men in their 30s. I have joked about having him constantly carry ID even when just chilling outside our home because he looks like a grown man. I'd get side eye from the MPs and gate guards on Fort Meade when I'd insist that he was just a teenager, even while producing his dependent and student ID cards. He is intelligent and articulate but lacks social skills and often behaves awkwardly in public because he is high functioning autistic. It can be endearing, but lately I see how dangerous that could be. He is being groomed for schools like MIT and Georgia Tech because of his incredible academic performance. He is a hard worker, but lacks stress management skills, which sometimes make him emotional. Also endearing, also dangerous. What if someone mistook his teenage emotion for aggression? What if they can't see my child and instead see a man, or worse, a threat?
What if? WHAT IF?
I am not a fearful woman. I do not lay up at night worried what will happen to my children. I dig overcoming things, so I usually quite enjoy recognizing a fear so I can stomp on it. I stopped identifying as a religious person many years ago, but I do consider myself a woman of faith (they are different, I promise, so spare us all a lecture.) I share the Love and Gratitude of my belief in a Creator with as many people as I can through my actions, not with words. Words can be extremely powerful, but they often fall flat without action. When I am afraid, I take action. I've overcome crippling fears with this combination of grit and faith. I am a powerful, positive force of a woman.
I fear for my son's life.
Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and NOW Philando Castile. My fear is heavy and I am working feverishly to conquer it. I am no expert in how right or wrong their deaths were, but I know that my heart says "be careful" and "teach your son" just in case. That description up there isn't just my son, that description is other black men too.
I am tired of seeing their deaths paraded on the news. I am tired of cell phone videos of watching black men die, be murdered, be vilified in their posthumous inability to defend themselves. I am tired of crying with the families of the deceased. I am tired of trying to make sense of this and feeling crippled because I can't.
Today, I have to sit down AGAIN and attempt to explain another black man's death to my son. And I have to seek strength to move forward in action without feeling helpless outrage.
*DO NOT come for me on this post. Do NOT share someone else's death and ask me why I didn't post about it. Don't talk to me about Hillary Clinton or classified emails or Trump or any of that bullshit.
I am not here for that today.*
Rest in peace, Alton Sterling.
I went to bed last night mourning Alton Stirling. I woke up to the news of the death of Philando Castile. I do not know what to do.