As a member of the online community, Nextdoor, I noticed a posting for an event entitled “Mother 2 Mother: A Conversation between black mothers about having “The Talk” with their own black sons.”
At the time I read about the event I had no knowledge of who was putting this event on, what sort of women would be presenting, or even what types of stories would be shared. This is generally not something I would partake in, however, in light of all that has transpired in Ferguson, near where I live, I had to question whether I’m really informed about the plight of all mothers.
As the mother of a black son, I decided to attend and be open to the possibility of engaging in a very real, open and honest conversation about the growing trend of violence among young black males.
I arrived early as to ensure a good seat. I sat a few rows back and right in the middle, where I could make very clear eye contact and hear it all. I didn’t want to miss a thing!
I had my notebook and multiple pencils ready to do some furious note taking, doing my best to chronicle each woman’s plight, as they told their stories.
Slowly I watched as the beautiful ornate sofas filled up with one black woman after another, and I started to wonder about the agenda. It was appearing to me to be a little less like a conversation and more like a one-sided preaching session. But, hey I was not going to judge a book just by the cover. “Just wait and see,” I told myself.
As the session began the room was filled with mostly women in attendance with a couple of men. Eventually there was a pretty even mix of black and white. The introductions and initial pleasantries were done by a few women who shared their personal views and experiences.
Lady 1, a black attorney, believes that she lives in a predominantly white world. One filled with racism because her husband is stopped by the police for suspected car thefts in the area while walking his rat terrier in their neighborhood. I’ll be honest after just this first one I’m starting to really wonder where the narrative is headed this evening, but with this particular woman I reserve opinion because I don’t know the backdrop to those comments.
Lady 2 offers a story of her daughter and grandson. She shares that her grandson got out of the house and down the street; his mother found him a time later in the backyard of a neighbor’s house. As his mother is chastising him for going in the yard, he says “it’s okay he’s white”. The issue being the perception that black is bad white is good. She then proceeded to slam/blame the media for creating the perception and cited the following events as her examples:
– Zemir Begic a Bosnian resident here in St. Louis, was brutally beaten with hammers by four teenagers. She shares her disgust watching Channel 4 report the story and at the moment they are about to tell you who is responsible a black woman is shown “conveniently” walking behind the reporter.
– Jabria Phillips, the 23 month old girl beaten by her Step-Father in February for “stealing a piece of cake” and died as a result of her injuries. Lady 2 takes issue with the title of the article “1 y/o beaten to death for stealing cake”. She went on to very passionately explain that stealing is a deliberate conscious action, that a one year does not have the capacity to decide to steal and how the media highlights the act in a very negative light when black is involved.
MY MARGIN NOTE COMMENTS:
– The issue is the white man was viewed as good? NOT the fact that your grandson got out of the house unnoticed and was found down the street in a neighbor’s backyard?
– NOT lack of parenting or appropriate supervision…. No?
– The Bosnian man, Zemir, was savagely murdered by 2 black teens, 1 Hispanic teen and 1 unidentified teen still wanted by police; and the issue is that a black woman chose to get her 30 seconds of fame by walking behind a live reporter who was reporting the tragedy?
– Not a word of concern, disgust, anger over the fact that TEENAGE BOYS, two of whom are black, and who were willing and capable of savagely murdering another human life in raw brutality? No issue on that one? So Bosnian lives don’t matter, just Black lives?
– The step-fathers statement when interviewed by the police verbatim “she stole a piece of cake” – the news reported the story accurately. Why is the issue NOT about the distorted perspective of the step-father viewing what the little girl had done as “stealing?” Further, why is the issue not about how this brutal man’s only response to an infant’s “stealing” is to physically assault her so violently that she dies? Those are not things to be concerned with?
Lady 3 helped to create the Stay Safe Card with St. Louis Police Department. This card is informative for teens to know what to do when stopped by the police. She requested of the Superintendent to print a few hundred for the high school students where she worked or volunteered. The Superintendent willingly had thousands printed up saying that he wanted to give them to the middle school kids as well. She says “this is the value of having an African American as a Superintendent”.
Lady 3 also expressed her profound concerns for the following;
– the negative imaging surrounding blacks
– that it’s time to change the narrative about black men
– when society indicts black sons they are also indicting black mothers
– until black boys are imaged as humans first, this will never stop
MY MARGIN NOTE COMMENTS:
– Superintendent made an excellent and very proactive decision.
– His excellent decision is not because of his education, experience, logic, reason, presence in the community, dedication to the children or being damn good at his job? How is it not racism to credit his excellent decision on his blackness to present a card.
– Is it negative imaging if it’s factual reporting? The image will change, when the behavior changes, i.e. LESSEN the negative to report.
– It is time to change the narrative of black men and it STARTS, BEGINS & ENDS WITH BLACK MEN!
Get to changing it!!!!
– Destruction of the nuclear family, lack of importance on fathers in children’s lives has led to the indicting of black mothers. Where are the fathers to indict? Would there be so many children to indict if they had strong, stable, noble fathers to lead them in their journey of discovery?
– Black boys need to first view themselves as human, and make choices that respect their life and humanity regardless of their circumstance. Black lives have to and should first matter to blacks!
Lady 3 approaches the podium and begins with “I thought the more of these I did, the easier it would get”. She shares a story of her now 20 year old son who was a lifetime student in the Clayton school district. She first had “the talk” with him when he was six years old, he and his best white friend were caught looking up the skirts of girls and women walking up and down the stairs at school. She was called to the school to find her son in the Principals office along with the onsite police officer assigned to that school. Her conversation with the police officer included him telling to her “get him straight or he will be locked up”. She further explains that the other boy was sent back to class and his parents were not called. She believes this was undoubtedly a black white issue of preferential treatment to the white kid. When her son was a freshman in High School she was again summoned to the school where she was informed her son was in the Principals office in handcuffs for allegedly stealing from a new white kid in school. When she arrived at the school she learned her son had been transferred to juvenile hall for processing. It was later revealed that her son was not the one who stole from this new kid and was never charged with any crime, nor was he disciplined at school. She references a different scenario, one not where her son was involved, but as a comparison for how black kids are dealt with in comparison to other races. She shares that an Asian kid was caught on video stealing Teachers laptops and received a three day suspension instead of an arrest and transfer to juvenile hall. Lady 3 reveals her profound sadness that her sons glow was forever taken by those experiences and he was never the same trusting, hopeful young soul he was before the interaction with the school officers. Lady 3 feels that she has failed her son by putting him in one of the best rated school districts in St. Louis, MO.
MY MARGIN NOTE COMMENTS:
– So many missing variables pertinent to the relevance, accuracy and claims of racism in the stories. Had her 6 year old been in trouble before to warrant more impactful dealings? How many young boys had that officer watched go down the wrong path to give such a stern warning to his mother? Had her freshman son been in any other trouble? Had there been previous incidents of theft to suspect him or react so harshly as to send a message to the other students? How many years difference between her son’s freshman year and the Asian kid being caught? Is it possible that policy change had occurred on how to handle theft? Could that be the reason for the difference?
– Wouldn’t a son vindicated in the eyes of the law and proven to be a law abiding citizen make the glow just a bit brighter?
– Her parenting failure is putting her son in the best rated school district? What do they teach in parenting classes now?
We are only three ladies in, and tomorrow we will hear from the Director of Racial Injustice and her view of St. Louis being the most racist in the country……