I have a little boy. He likes math and sciences. He likes stories. He likes Beyblades. And he likes wearing hoodies.
Right now, he’s seven years old. Right now, he’s adorable. And right now, I’m terrified.
I’m terrified because right now, he’s going through a major growth spurt. He’ll continue growing. He’ll get taller than me. He’ll get as tall as his dad. Maybe he’ll even go over. Who knows. But at some point, he’ll get big.
And he’ll stop being adorable.
Girls at school would still think him cute. Friends, even the extended "acquaintances" on Facebook, will think he’s cute. But let’s say he’s walking down the street, and a woman is on the same side of the street, and she looks at him, and crosses over to the other side. Or say a police car slows down just a little, just a little, to watch him.
He would’ve crossed that line into being…suspicious.
A few years ago, on his first day of school, the teachers mistook him for another kid with the same first name. So they put him on a different bus, and sent that kid to me. A frightened, teary-eyed Mexican kid.
"How," I railed at the bus driver, "could you think my son is Mexican?"
But you know what? He does. Curly brown hair. Big brown eyes. Light brown skin. If you never met my son before, or never seen who his parents looked like, you’d be hard-pressed to say he doesn’t look Mexican. Or Hispanic. He will have to deal with this. As a family, we all will have to deal with this.
And it still makes him a person of color, which in this world, will be a strike against him.
I suppose this is where I write that being Christian, I am to trust in God for his safety. That I am to pray every day and night for God to send his angels to protect him, and to keep him out of harm’s way. This, I have been told by countless pastors and Bible study leaders, is all one can hope to do when one feels helpless and powerless.
But it is not enough. It is never enough. After all, Trayvon still died, didn’t he?
So right now, I’m terrified. I want to lock my son up. I want to put bricks on top of his head to keep him from growing. I want to shield him from all the weirdos and freaks and police who feel they need to slow down to check him out and people who take a look at him and instantly see "Other". I want to hide him from all the well meaning folk who’ll say, "Oh don’t worry, he’s mixed. He won’t have as much trouble as say darker-skinned boys…"
Because that’s not right. That’s not right at all. No one should have to worry about their kids walking down the street and being counted as suspicious. It shouldn’t matter what color of skin they are. It shouldn’t.
We say that, over and over. And then another kid gets shot.
I have seen too much death these past few weeks. Not family members or close friends. People I barely knew deaths. Celebrities who have been part of my life growing up deaths. Deaths I hear in the news. Ongoing wars. Probably would be better if I shut off the internet for a while.
I feel helpless. Powerless. Terrified.
And you know what? All the chatter about reproductive rights, about freedom of religion, politics, gay marriage, Romney says this, Obama says that. It’s all so much noise. So much fucking noise. I could give a rat’s ass about it. Really. Because right now, while everyone yells and blabbers and screams and push each other, all I’m going to do is go into the other room and make sure my son is covered up, because he’s been feeling a little sick. And I’m going to look for another book to read after Wind in the Willows, because he enjoys it when we cuddle together and read at bedtime. And I have to return the Muppet Show DVDs to the library, because they’re overdue, because my son loves to watch them, and I like sharing my childhood with him.
And I have to figure out how to talk to him about being black, and how that might be a detriment to him. But also, how that is the greatest thing in the world.
And I’m going to pray every day and night for God to send his angels to protect him. Because I’m his mother. That’s what I do.
I have a son. And he will always be adorable.