Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Eric Gardner. Sam Dubose. Tamir Rice. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile.
– All of which are somebody’s husband, friend, uncle, nephew, brother, father, but most profoundly, somebody’s ‘son’.
When I seen the videos and images of the murders of these men and others (who did not even have the opportunity to be proven innocent or guilty) by law enforcement, I did not see a man stealing cigarettes, I did not see a man threatening someone else’s life, I did not see a man being resistant, I did not see a little boy posing any threat with a weapon, I did not see a man selling CDs, and I did not see a man being uncooperative. What I did see though was: My sister’s SON, I saw my father (my paternal grandmother’s SON), my boyfriend (his mother’s SON), my uncles (my maternal grandmother’s SON), and most devestatingly I seen my unborn SON.
I am not sure how many White women have ever envisioned or been forced to imagine the death of their child – I’m talking about a child that has not yet been conceived, nor a child that has yet been thought of or planned for.
For so long, we have been plagued with the images and ideas of our men being slain publicly, and made a spectacle of. Our men that we have birthed, nurtured, and loved. We have seen them be made into bloody ornamental pieces of sidewalks, streets, and cars. We have witnessed the very souls of our kin ascend from their tainted bodies; we have seen our sons die right in front of our eyes.
As a Black woman I know the strength from which I was created, I know the courage it took to raise me, and I know the heart it took to let me go into the world. From the beginning of slavery Black women were forced to care for other children before their own. They were forced to raise and nurture children who’s hands would be the same hands that would kill their own. These same Black women would then grow to learn to accept and understand the cycles of life and death, more than anyone should. They would be forced to learn to operate and cultivate independently. Not only that, but they were forced to suffer agonizing pain, and to understand that life must go on – much like today. It kills me today because so much of this is still a reality. I can only imagine the strength and relentlessness these Black women had. My only hope is that some of that same blood is still running and thriving inside every Black woman today.
I cannot speak to feelings of the mother’s who have lost a child especially the mother’s of these men, those emotions are feelings that cannot be imagined but only experienced. I can however, speak to the fear and pain of the Black women who bare witness. I never thought I would have to teach my son not only how to interact with the police, but how to walk, talk, dress, breathe, and comply in such away that every white man he comes in contact with feels damn near untouchable and reproachable – so that just maybe he will be able to live another day.
Black women are not just mad because a Black man, or Black men have died, they are mad because they know that any moment a part of them could die too.
To all of my sistas out there I say: We were built for this. We are built with centuries worth of strength, courage, and love. We were built to overcome and conquer. We were built to restore and establish what was always taken from us. Do not stop loving, nurturing or caring for what is rightfully yours. We were built for better, and must continue until we get just that.
-Much love, As Told by HER