Right after the Sandy Hook tragedy, easily half of the blogs I read came out with related posts. Most of them were trite. Some of the bloggers, I felt, were trying too hard to make the tragedy relevant to themselves. Some tried to make political statements. Overall, I didn’t care for any of them.
Then Jenna wrote this post at Stop, Drop, and Blog: Fear Is Lacking Control, Lacking Answers.
It is an amazing post. It’s also not very long, so I strongly suggest that you read it.
Since Sandy Hook, gun control has been front and center in the political arena. I’m a liberal, and most of my friends are liberal. Some of my friends and family members are conservative Republicans. Two or three of them like to post conservative Republican photos with slogans to their Facebook timelines. In addition to bashing “welfare” recipients, these photos liken anyone wanting gun control to fascists and advocate arming more people as an alternative to real discussion or problem solving about our country’s issues with gun violence. All of these people are white, and have white children.
Many white parents have to worry about their children being shot only in the abstract. They think about it only when tragedies like Columbine or Sandy Hook occur.
I don’t have that luxury.
When we checked the “African American” box on our adoption application, we knew we had to do some reading about how to be a white parent of a black child. So I knew, even before we adopted, that society at large sees Black Men as the most threatening.
As you know, Jackson is black.
Right now, he’s an adorable little kid. But sooner or later, he’s going to be a suspicious character.
We live in a town where white people are the minority. My neighbors are Peruvian, so their sons are brown, a little lighter than Jackson. A few years ago – 2009 – the older son was jumped at the bottom of our hill on his way home from a friend’s house. He was beaten and his iPod was stolen. He got off easy compared to his brother. The younger son was on his way to school later that year when he was shot for having brown skin and wearing red pants (a gang color).
The Antioch Police Department recently settled a suit that alleged that the APD discriminated against black residents.
In December, a man was shot for stealing laundry from a building’s laundry room. (He didn’t steal it.)
Recently, a 7-year old boy was shot at a barbecue, the victim of a stray bullet from a nearby highway.
Just today, a man shot his ex-girlfriend and her mother.
Obviously, we have to move before Jackson gets to high school. But even if we leave Antioch, there are some places we can’t go because my son is likely to get shot simply for being black.
Jenna writes about wanting to keep her sons safe in a small Ohio town where they’re the majority. No matter where we are, Jackson is a potential target, even by police, the people who are supposed to protect him.
I haven’t written about this before because I don’t have the proper words. Jenna’s words take on more urgency for me because of the color of my children’s skin:
I want answers. I want change. I want all children to be safe from this needless, unnecessary, gut-wrenching, life-altering, deadly violence. I want my children to be safe when they’re not in my care or when we’re walking through a mall or sitting in a darkened theater or standing on a sidewalk or sitting in our own yard. I want better for them — better than what continues to become part of our reality, their reality.
To paraphrase Jenna:
If my job as a parent is to deliver these two children to adulthood, what can I do so I don’t fail that one, monumental task?
White parents of white children, when you put these things on your Facebook timelines, you’re talking about my family. You’re talking about the number one killer of people like my son – Black People. If you had to live with the constant knowledge that your son could be killed just for the color of his skin, would you be so cavalier about guns and gun control?