I went to bed Thursday night with a weight on my chest, hearing the words of a child who was the same age as my twins, basically telling her mother not to worry, that she was right there. My babies do that … to me … to their older brothers. But it’s when someone has fallen and skinned a knee, or when one is crying because they don’t have ownership of the remote. Anyway, I finally fell asleep in my safe bed and in my safe neighborhood and blocked the images and sounds Facebook had brought to my head and heart.
When I woke up I didn’t look at my phone or social media feed. I left the yard and actually found hope in a beautiful sunrise, exercised with a friend and came back home, ready to face the world. But my husband met me at the door, Twitter feed on fire … and the news of more hate.
All five boys were still sleeping. I couldn’t breathe. I cried. I sobbed. I left for work without seeing their faces, knowing everything I would do over the next eight hours would be for – and because of – them.
I talked with friends who had children. Friends who were sobbing like me. Their skin tones were a rainbow. They fell across the board politically. They had children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. We set up meetings, town halls, protests. We prayed together and loved each other.
And then I went home, and I didn’t know what to say. We ate. I dodged. And then I inhaled and started the most courageous conversation with my boys I’ve ever had.
Boys, you are privileged. You are white and middle class. I will never worry about you walking out in a hoody, unless it’s so cold I think you should wear a jacket instead. I will worry about you being hit by a drunk driver, while other mothers fear their son will be shot for speeding. I know the teachers will love you, and strangers will smile at you for no reason.
Do you understand what’s happening as we talk? News reports are coming in about more violence, more hate. I will not let you listen to those who blame these recent events on something that’s happened in the past few years. I will make you read the history books, and I will make you read books on poverty and oppression.
I will not let you blame this on any one person, any one group, any one race. I will remind you of all the amendments and all the Bible verses … not just a select few. I will remind you all men were created equal, but I will also make you acknowledge all men (and women) are not given equal opportunities or treated equally.
I will not let you think you understand what your friends of color are feeling, because you have no idea. Just support them, the best you can. All of your lives matter. You are all beautiful, wonderful children.
I will remind you how no one should take another’s life … out of revenge, out of fear, out of cowardice. There are bad people in this world, but there are many more good people. I will not let you believe darkness can ever be conquered by anything but light.
I will set an example for you by walking away from anyone who wants to justify or make excuses for any of this. I will walk away from anyone who defends any of these horrible actions. I will march, sit and voice my concerns … and I will work to make a change. And whenever it’s possible, I will take you with me.
We hugged as I wiped away tears. My sweet, beautiful boys told me they understood. They told me they’d fight with me. And I exhaled.
I know tonight my privileged children will be safe. I will pray for those who are not, and their mothers.