I’m in Sanford covering the Trayvon Martin case for theGrio. Quite an experience. I also wrote about the tragic cad for my column this week.
As the mother of two sons (and a daughter), I’ve become accustomed to the warnings attendant to young African-American boys as they mature into men.
Don’t talk back to police officers .?.?. for God’s sake, don’t run from them. Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, be prepared to enter a world that often views you with suspicion, and sometimes fear. Carry yourself respectably. Prove the prejudiced ones wrong.
Sadly, too many black boys grow up afraid of police. The rare but legendary outrages like Arthur McDuffie or Rodney King loom large in the African-American memory, as do the more mundane, but often more painful, slights and personal contacts that breed resentment and mistrust.
There has been too little relationship-building between even good police departments and predominantly black communities, breeding a divide that makes it harder to solve crimes, and making it tense or even dangerous for good officers to do even routine policing in some inner-city neighborhoods.
We also teach our children to be wary of strangers. It’s a lesson that in modern times is impressed on both boys and girls. Too often, the lesson extends to adults much closer to home, to the sports field or even the church.
But it is the stranger, lurking in the great unknown outside our door, that looms in the fearful imagination of mothers (and fathers too). And so we warn them: Don’t get into arguments; don’t fight over a girl. Don’t brag about the material things you have. Keep away from gangs. Stay off the streets at night.
We want our children not to lose their childhoods to fear. We want to give them the freedom to roam, to be independent — to go to the corner store to buy iced tea and Skittles on their own…
Read the whole thing here.