We were in pursuit of a new life, focused on health and wellness, and Big made his way through a local grocery store. His plan was not to purchase several items, maybe one or two, so he did not think to pick up a cart or buggy for his items. When he noticed, a sale on Vitamin Waters. He began to pick them up and head towards the door where the carts were stored. When the security officer not only profiled him but apprehended him and held him as a suspect to theft.
This however is not truly my story to tell, it is only to paint the picture of the specific moment I knew that I must protect him. See as black women, there comes a time when we must “choose” to protect our black men. Some black women experience this reality when their parents are pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation, and they have the “police protocol talk.” Others might feel protective when a teacher “calls out a classmate,” or when a father gets arrested and drug out of a home. Black mothers’ hearts may tell their minds, to protect their beautiful baby boy after giving birth. Some will feel it when they see an unarmed black man brutally killed on social media which triggers a thought of their father, brother, uncle, cousin, or best friend. However, it truly doesn’t matter when you choose to fight over flight, as black women there is no escaping this reality it is merely a part of our upbringing, a bridge to sisterhood, a rite of passage. We can, we must, and we will protect our black men by any means necessary.
That crazy night so many years ago, effected the way in which we raised our family, and our perspective of where we fit in this world. The world that seemed against us no matter our educational background, our commitment to serving the community, or how much we gave back to the youth. When we enter any store to this day, whether we are going to get one or twenty things, we always get a cart. For a long time, I remember Big would not wear sweats to a store, or even wear his hood on his head. He explained, that he is judged based on his tone of voice, his facial expressions, his size, and what he wears. During one of his recent messages, he talked about his boss explaining, “that he had to dress the part of the job he wanted.” I believe that this is very true specifically for black men in leadership but, I wonder would this be different if he was a 6’4 white man? This breaks my heart, but his reality is he must do what he needs to do to protect us by any means necessary.
We consistently share stories of injustice, so our children are prepared. We discuss how the world sees them as cute boys of color until “White Americas” perspective changes, and they are seen as; aggressive, angry, unsafe for the classroom, or intimidating. This change begins when boys of color enter adolescence and sometimes younger. Calling it like it is, “White America” begins to adultify our young men of color. They see them developing into strong young men, with voices that question the status quo, their opinions matter to their peers, and they are filled with a joy that is at many times snuffed out. I will not let this happen to my young kings. I refuse to let someone determine who they will become. The only person besides God that has that authority is me and Big. Hezekiah and Little know their worth, they know that God has blessed them abundantly. I will continue to raise them to go against the grain, to speak life into dark situations, to prepare them for challenges and I must protect them by any means necessary.