After watching the news and learning of yet another killing of a young Black man by law enforcement, I turned to my husband to ask him the question I’d been dreading.
“How are we going to prepare him for getting pulled over?”
My husband is Black, I’m white. Our son is white-passing.
My husband’s response: “It depends how dark he gets.”
It broke my heart to hear it, but I knew he was right. If our son stays the color that he is right now, it’s not likely that he’ll be profiled. A few shades darker? We’ll have to have the conversation that so many parents are having with their children across the country right now.
We’ll have to tell him that no matter how much he feels demeaned, no matter how much his rights are being violated by law enforcement, he can’t speak up – it’s a matter of life and death.
We’ll have to teach him that the system is rigged against him, and the tiniest misstep could have devastating consequences.
And one day, he might have to have the same conversation with his son or daughter.
No parent should have to send their child out into the world knowing that the people sworn to protect and serve them may do anything but. No parent should have to think about the fact that a genetic change in their child’s pigment may increase the chances that they’ll be senselessly murdered.
No parent should have to consider these factors when it comes to keeping their child safe, but those of us with melanated children have to do exactly that.
As adults, it’s too late for many of our peers whose lives have been taken far too early by the criminal justice system as it currently stands. That being said, we can change things for our children. We can start by never forgetting to say their names – remembering the lives that have been taken by those in power. We can work for reform so that perhaps our children will grow up in a society where they can depend on those sworn to protect them to do exactly that – not the opposite.