Trayvon.

Having a daughter gives me anxiety.Let me explain….Even though my daughter is just four, sometimes she gets weird compliments or lingering stares from creepy dudes that cause me weariness and make me pull her in a little tighter. The thought of her dating one day nearly sends me into a panic attack. The thought of her going away to college and walking around campus alone — perhaps sometimes at night — makes me wants to throw up.

I worry because I know what it is to be a girl. I’ve been there — been followed to my car late at night, stalked at a mall, gotten creepy compliments from creepy teachers and dated guys who didn’t have the best of intentions.

In March of 2012 I signed a petition on Change.org that was started by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. I was outraged that the man who had shot their son, Trayvon, was walking free. I believed with all my heart that he should be arrested and there should be a trial.

But it didn’t consume my thoughts. I still slept soundly at night. I agreed with the outcries of racial profiling, but it didn’t affect me personally. I was safe in my white world with my white husband and white daughter. The Martin family were part of “the others” — living in a world I didn’t understand because I didn’t have to.

Then in August 2012, I met my Congolese son for the first time through a photograph.

My son is black. As black goes, he couldn’t really be any blacker. But right now, people fawn over his dimples and perfect ringlets and marvel at his shiny, glowing, chocolate colored skin. I put him in a hoodie and a beanie without even giving it a second thought, because he’s adorable and he looks adorable in a hoodie and a beanie.

But in ten years or so, I can’t put hoodies and beanies on my son, and I have to start telling him things about how people are going to perceive certain clothes or behaviors. Because he is black I have to do this. Because he is black I have to worry that people may think he is a thug if he is walking around the neighborhood after dark.

Suddenly, the Martin family is no longer “the others”. Suddenly, I look at Trayvon Benjamin Martin and I see a little bit of my son in him.

I’m not claiming to understand the atrocities that many African Americans have had to endure their entire lives. I realize that I am an imposter. That one year ago the Paula Deen debacle and Trayvon Martin verdict would have left me outraged, but I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it. Now, these things are personal and they make my heart ache because they are things my son may have to deal with. They are things I can’t relate to because they are so different from my own experiences, but they are things that I have a responsibility to educate myself about because they directly affect my family.

Having an African American son gives me anxiety.

Here’s a few posts/articles you should read. Just trust me — you should.

JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON: 7 ACTION STEPS FOR OUR OUTRAGE (Rage Against the Minivan)excerpt — Americans love to see themselves as “colorblind” . . . to describe our country as a post-racial melting pot with a black president and a smug sense of satisfaction for not being as racist as the previous generation. But race preference in adoption tells another tale, and in my mind, perfectly exemplifies the disturbing social status of black males. Black males are the hardest children to  place in adoptive homes. Of prospective adoptive families, only about 14% are  open to an African American child, and of that 14%, even fewer are open to black  males. When I asked social workers why, the answer: people are afraid they will  grow up to be criminals.

DEAR TRAYVON’S MOM (Jen Hatmaker)excerpt — But I’m learning what is going to happen six years from now, Sybrina. People will start to suspect him for no reason, or train a watchful eye on him at the mall, or fear him. He may ask a white girl to prom, one he has gone to school with since these innocent years, and get his heart crushed when her daddy forbids it. He will have to be careful in public with his friends, as the most innocent activity will likely be interpreted as threatening…like walking down the street with candy and tea in his own neighborhood.

PRESIDENT OBAMA SPEAKS ON TRAYVONexcerpt — I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go  away. There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

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  1. […] I even get gutsy and touch on deeper topics like respecting country requirements or dealing with issues of race. More personal blog posts that include lots of pictures of our kids are largely password protected […]

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