“I’m afraid to have a son.”
As I stood at the place where 18-year-old Michael Brown took his last breath, shot six times by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, despite being unarmed, these were the words said by a young African-American woman.
“I’m afraid to birth a son who could possibly be a victim of police brutality.”
As she spoke, tears streamed down her face. All I could do was hug her. I couldn’t comfort her by saying that she doesn’t have to worry, because history doesn’t show that. According to a study conducted by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an organization that promotes self-determination in our community, police officers, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes killed at least 313 African Americans in 2012.
By their estimation, a black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours that year.
We don’t have to look too far to find police brutality in Ohio. Two years ago, after the car in which Clevelanders Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were driving backfired, police mistook the sound for gunfire, chased them for some 20 miles and ultimately shot at them 137 times – only to discover that no weapons even existed.
What could I say to this young woman in Ferguson whose tears met the blood-stained pavement?
Just as she is afraid to birth a son, there is a segment of society that fears the sons who are birthed. After the 2009 death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed Oakland, California, resident who was killed by a transit officer in a subway station on New Year’s Day, a black woman writing under the name “M. Gibson” expressed this truth on a blog:
“Fear of the black man just didn’t start overnight … Its origin has been embedded in this nation’s consciousness since the Nat Turner revolt; a pathological fear that the oppressed will one day rise up and inflict vengeance upon the oppressor.”
What do you tell black mothers who wonder if their boys will merely be locked up or killed? Do we tell the young men to pull their pants up? Would that stop our sons from being hated and shot like dogs in the street?
My dear mothers: I ask that you pray for your sons and those who fear them. We are all in need of prayer.
That’s the best solution that I can conceive, since only God can remove the hatred in the hearts of our fellow Americans. Countless of our sons, brothers, fathers and husbands have already been murdered by this hate.
As I hugged the young sister in the spot where Michael Brown died, my tears joined hers.
I cried in the hopes of washing away the blood stains, and I cried for the future leader that she’s afraid to birth.
Article originally appeared in Triumph Magazine
Jones is an impassioned leader, motivational speaker, and spoken word artist. He has been interviewed by Time, JET, and Essence Magazines, and has been a guest correspondent on CNN, MSNBC, and CSPAN. Jones is also the President and Founder of The Basheer Jones Foundation, as well a proud member of the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He has received various awards and recognition for his accomplishments including the Emerging Leader Award from Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Youth Pepsi Essence Award. His column appears periodically in Triumph Magazine.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty