It’s about 11pm on a Tuesday night. One of the two nights per week that I actually get to sleep with my husband. Instead of enjoying his embrace, I’m watching him sleep peacefully as I toss, turn, and incessantly scroll my twitter timeline to keep up with what isn’t being shown on the news. Straight anarchy. I’m sick to my stomach as I scroll past images of tanks, tear gas, side-by-side images of protests in the 1960’s with images from present day, and a lifeless body in the street.
“What’s wrong boo?” my husband asked, half-asleep.
“Nothing.” I said.
He’s not big on social media and he’d worked 16 hours on Monday and another 8 just that morning. I was sure he was oblivious to the goings-on in Ferguson earlier in the week, and I didn’t want to keep him up all night talking about it.
“Something’s wrong…you ok?” he probed again.
Something WAS wrong, but I didn’t quite know how to articulate it. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was that I was feeling. A combination of sadness, fear, anxiety and anger. But mostly sadness. As both the mother of a black son, and the wife of a police officer, I am sad, afraid, and angry that I have to feel those things.
Since he insists, I show him my timeline and he sits up in the bed as he too, scrolls though the blurbs and images provided by those who are protesting amidst the military tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas.
“Isn’t that crazy?” I interrupted. “Those are the police doing that…It’s just crazy, you know? Especially now that we’re raising a black son…”
My son, at not even two years old is nowhere near able to understand what being a Black boy means for him. He doesn’t even know about race, let alone skin color. There will come a time where I will have to explain to him the meaning of the color of his skin and his Dad will have to teach him how to not look threatening, and what to do if he’s pulled over–not as a police officer himself, but as a Black man.
My absolute biggest fear is something happening to my son or my husband. Horrible thoughts run through my mind an irrational amount of times throughout the day, and this will only get worse as my son gets older. Old enough to walk to the 7-11 and buy some skittles, or old enough to be casually jay-walking down the street.
I worry about my baby brother in college in New Hampshire, hoping he never happens to look threatening to the wrong person, or hoping he never gets involved with the wrong White girl. I worry about my other younger brother here in Maryland hoping he never gets pulled over by the wrong cop. Hell, I even worry that my husband will get pulled over by the wrong cop, just praying that he knows not to reach too quickly for his wallet to show his badge, lest he be mistaken for “reaching for a weapon”. The badge that he carries in the pocket of his slightly sagging jeans, does not make him any different from any other Black man to those who see Black men as a threat.
And as of late, not only do I worry about him being a target as a Black man, but a target as a police officer as tensions rise and chants of “Fuck the police”grow stronger. I half-heartedly agree. Not that there should be a vendetta against all police officers, but there is something that needs to change when an officer is allowed to murder a child in cold blood, and then take a nice paid vacation as the entire state tries to cover up this injustice and fuel the fire for their terrorism. TERRORISM. Install the dash cams. Puchase the body cams. We need this.
Still, my heart skips a beat and my palms get sweaty as I scroll past images of picket signs calling for the blood of police in the streets. My husband is not a pig. He is a loving, compassionate, funny, personable, father and husband. My baby boy is not a menace to society. Neither was Trayvon, or Michael, or Sean, or Amadou, or Oscar, or Eric or any other unarmed Black man gunned down by a police officer. I just wish I didn’t have to argue these facts, but I do, and everyday, my prayer will be the same–that BOTH of my men are able to return home to me.