In early 2008, when I found out I was going to birth a daughter into the earth, if all went well (and it did), I thought I was safe. What do I mean? I birthed an African American daughter, not a son. I would not have to worry that if she were pulled over by the police that it would be a huge problem for me as a parent – I wasn’t birthing an African American male – who may be killed for the slightest infraction. I thought I was safe!
That has proven not to be the case in our current climate. Breonna Taylor was killed by the police, in her apartment, as she slept in March of 2020. Natasha McKenna was killed while in police custody in 2015 – tasered to death during a mental health crisis. Sandra Bland, died in July, 2015 and though her death was ruled a suicide, the events that were filmed prior to her arrest cause doubt to resonate in our minds. These are three of the many African American women who have died at the hands of police officers. Additionally, I have watched more than one YouTube video that show young girls being thrown on the ground and brutalized by police officers as they spoke out against their treatment of someone being unjustly detained or even tried to defend themselves. I thought I was safe!
My daughter, who is nearing teenagedom, and I are now having to have “the talk”. Not just about having to “work twice as hard to be considered just as good” that most, if not all African American families must. It is also about “keeping your hands visible” during a traffic stop and “watching your tone” when encountering law enforcement. I have to explain that she is not to travel alone – anywhere and to keep her phone charged so that she can record everything! I am constantly reminding her, even on a short walk to the nearby store, to be aware of her surrounding. Her DailyDad (we do not believe in step-parents) has taught her to defend herself and not be concerned about the attackers size but to focus on the techniques she has learned to subdue the person. Some of these things would have been necessary regardless, but in terms to those who are to “protect and serve”, I thought I was safe.
My thought bubble, not worrying about the police mistreating my child because she is a girl, has been shattered forever. I thought I was safe and my heart, mind, and perspective have been impacted and will never be the same. How about yours?!