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Raising a Black son in the 21st century

male suspect arrested in the night city, with police flashers behind him

Feeling afraid is a natural feeling of being a new mom. We’ve all laid awake at night pondering questions like, “do I have what it takes to raise this tiny human being when I don’t have my own life figured out?” “Am I going to ruin this kid?” But soon after the birth of my now 20-year-old son, I became aware of a different kind of fear, one that is heartless and cutthroat at its core: I was responsible for raising a Black male, in America, that means my son has a target on his back.

What I hear from other Black moms and dads who are raising black children is that we all have one thing in common, we feel more fearful than ever. With the rise of killings of Black males murdered at the hands of police officers there is no surprise of the division in this country.

My natural reaction is to keep my son safe by sheltering him from the world, but I cannot shield him from the reality of what is happening in this nation. I’ve had “real” talks with him about the racism he is faced with. As a teenager I sent him to an event hosted at my church that educated young males on what to do if they were ever stopped by the police. I pray that he never finds himself in that position, my daily prayer is, “God protect him from police brutality and stray bullets”.

Studies show that nearly 70 percent of Black adults see these as “tough” or really bad times for Black children.” The majority stated that life is harder for Black children in today’s society than when they were kids. And, parental figures are worried about their child being victimized before reaching adulthood. On the ride to school I would pray with my son, pleading the blood of Jesus over his life and asking God to protect him throughout his day. With all the massive school shootings, there were times I worried, could my son’s school be next? I am thankful that God placed a hedge protection around him.

Given this serious issue, I think it’s good to talk about it.  Anytime we can remind each other that these alarming actions are based on reality helps us to educate our children. As intense as this conversation is, it’s a conversation every Black parent must have with their child, and it’s not fear—it’s reality! The enormity of what Black children face compared to other ethnic groups—cannot be ignored. For those of us who are black and are raising Black kids, the terror we feel is indescribable.

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