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The Officer Said My Three Boys 'Fit the Description'

Last week, while preparing dinner, my youngest son came up to me and said "Mommy, we were racially profiled today." My heart stopped.

I immediately called his older brothers into the kitchen to ask what happened. My oldest began "Mommy, well I don't think he raically profiled us". "Who", I questioned. "Oh, the cop who stopped us."

Cops?
 
What?
 
How?
 
The boys were walking to church camp.  It's not even a 1/4 mile from our house.  Cops?  My kids?  OH MY GOD!
 
My precious twin sons have been blessed with height. By the 5th grade they were nearly 6' tall despite being among the youngest in their class. I often joke "they're tall and thin like their mom". It always gets a smile given at 5'3" and ___ lbs., I'm neither tall nor thin. 

When I drop the kids off at school, the youngest is escorted across the crosswalk by a crossing guard and must walk while the older two are dropped off at the school some 100-125 ft. further. There's no parking lot and they have to cross sans crossing guard. They look both ways and run across the street. I roll down the car window and in my mommy voice yell "Don't run". Not because I fear some car will run into my kids. I mean we're in the school carpool lane and there hasn't been an accident there like ever. It's not because I fear they'll trip and fall. I mean the twins may have inherited my height and weight *jokey-joke* but thank goodness they didn't inherit my clumsiness. I had amassed 3 busted chins from tripping by the time I was their age. I just don't want them to run because they're so tall it looks awkward. 

"Walk boys. Walk." I yell. "Walk boys. Walk." The twins are so careful in all that they do. When they leave the library, they stop at the curb, look both ways and race to the car. Again I roll down the windows yelling "Walk boys walk" catching them midstride. I guess I didn't fear them running until February 26, 2012. The day I heard of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. I remember seeing social media ablaze with news of a black teenager about 6' and about 170 lbs. or so walking home in the dark of night wearing a dark colored hoodie. A stranger approached him and he ran.
 
Black.
    Teenager.
        6' tall.
            about 160 lbs.
                Hoodie.
                    Running.
 
Black.
    Teenager.
        6' tall.
            about 160 lbs.
                Hoodie.
                    Running.
 
These visions echoed in my head once my youngest shared his story. Granted it was 9 o'clock in the morning when the boys left our house to walk just a few blocks up the street to the church camp where they serve as Youth Camp Counselors. The cop didn't see my sons as the AP honor roll students they are nor the recently baptized exemplary members of our church, he saw 3 Black men. He didn't know I always tell my sons to walk together. He didn't know they had a friend who is an only child whose mom asked if she could drop him off so he could walk with his friends (my sons). The cop didn't know the twins had walked ahead of the younger two and the younger two were simply running to catch up. He just saw four Black men running.
 
My heart broke when my kids told me the story. My heart ached even more when they stood in front of me confused by the tears which began to flow from my eyes. Their innocence...gone...forever.
 
This morning as we prepared to get ready for church, my husband stood before me feeling the air of my discontent. I didn't want to tell him because it's a topic we've disagreed on for years. However, when he asked me what was on my mind I asked him if the boys had talked to him about "the incident". "The incident", he replied. This was a conversation I didn't want to have with my husband as anytime the topic comes up he regresses to the time when he was pulled over by the police and had a gun pulled on him because he "fit the description". It was a conversation I didn't want to have because in my little innocent heart of hearts I never imagined my kids would ever "fit the description". 
 
This was a talk only an African American dad could have with his African American sons. Yeah, an African American woman could have the discussion if she had to but who better, in my opinion, to explain the experience than a Black man, a father to his son. There is no way our experiences as women could ever equate to those of men. However, this was a talk my husband had to have with our sons. A talk he knew one day he would have to have. Here I am thinking the worst talk I'd ever have to have with my children would be about the birds and the bees. Now here we sit...face in palm...struggling for words.
 
I guess it was a talk that was long overdue.  Perhaps one Hubby and I should have had with our sons, Los Tres Amigos, soon after Trayvon Martin was shot, I guess.  I don't know if there's ever an appropriate time to have this discussion... do you?




Comments

Masshole Mommy said…
This is so sad and I am so sorry that this happened to your kids. I am so confused by why this stuff still happens and I hope it doesn't happen to your kids again.
Alli Smith said…
I feel for your sons! That should have never happened and I can't imagine having to talk to a child about it. Maybe some day these type things will be no more. We can only hope and pray.
One of those talks we hope we never have to have with our children. Hope one day very soon it won't matter to anyone what color our skin is.
Heather D said…
I'm so sick of hearing about this crap. We are one race - the human race. Wish we could all think like that.
This is so sad to read, I hate that people can look at someone and assume something about them because of their outwards appearance.
Jeannette said…
It is SO sad that our society has become less trusting and more bully like! I wish that people would judge but the way people act instead of the way they look.
Lynn White said…
Ugh! This always makes me so angry! Sorry they had to deal with that. Makes me very sad this is one of the every day life things that have to be dealt with now.
Anosa Malanga said…
Though it is rarer in the UK it still happens and scary to think there innocence has to be broken so soon to have the conversation.
Joline said…
I'm sorry this happened to your kids. It's so disheartening how this is happening in this day and age. It's a difficult conversation to have, and hopefully someday no family would ever have to have it.
AiringMyLaundry said…
I am so sorry this happened. It shouldn't. My husband was a military cop and can't believe how some cops are behaving these days.
So sorry that your sons had to go through this! It saddens me that black parents have to have this discussion with their sons. So scary! :(
Marysa said…
We definitely live in a scary time. While it was shocking, it is good that you were able to go over things with your kids and have a discussion to hopefully keep them safer.
Lisa said…
It is a conversation we all have to have with our children. It is not something anyone wants, but something we all have to do.
We definitely live in scary times. I am a nervous wreck when my boys are late in coming home and they don't return my messages. My husband and I talked with them and made them understand to always let us know where they are.
Mommy Moment said…
This makes me so sad. We live in a very scary world. I'm glad your sons weren't physically hurt.
Jacqui Odell said…
I am so sorry that that happened to your kids. It's sad that people do this. When will people stop judging.
Parent Palace said…
I'm so sorry this happened. I have been reading so much lately about racism in America and I know that it's important to not deny the existence of race and not be "colorblind". I just wish I knew what to do to help. I try to teach my children to not only to treat people equally but also recognize their own privilege. I think just continuing the conversation can never hurt. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
This is so wrong! I am disappointed with what is going on in the world right now. There is so much hate and mistrust. This is not the society I want my kids to grow up in.

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