A few months after Blueberry was born, my husband ordered me some graphic tees because he knows how much I love them. The first one says “I Run on Coffee and Gangsta Rap.” ACCURATE! The second one says “Raising Tiny Gentleman.” Also, ACCURATE! The third one says “I Raise Boys Nothing Scares Me.” I laughed when I first read it because despite my fight to raise our oldest without gender stereotypes, in many ways he’s a “typical” boy. I’ve had to get very used to bugs and dirt and nerf darts and superhero obsessions and LEGOs. I mean the shirt is something that pretty much every “boy” mom I know would agree with but a few weeks ago I wore it to a photo shoot for moms with Sesame and Blueberry for my friend’s impending book launch, and suddenly the shirt felt so untrue.
While I love all the shirts out there about moms of boys having nothing to be scared of, the truth is there are so many things that scare me about raising boys, and even more when I think about the fact that I’m raising Black boys. I told my husband that I was going to write this post a while ago but then I procrastinated because moving the words from my brain to my computer screen is hard at times, particularly when it’s an emotional post.
I’m scared that someone will kill my boys simply because they are Black.
I almost wrote that I’m scared the police will kill my boys because they are Black but at this point, I worry about their Blackness leading to their death at the hands of anyone. Not just the police or white people but anyone who has allowed white supremacy to impact the way they navigate through life. As Sesame grows older and taller, I worry that some people will simply see him as a threat instead of a young kid.
The truth is that even if I was raising girls I’d have to fear the possibility of them dying at the hands of white supremacy. Black girls are not spared, instead, their deaths are met with silence much like their pain in life.
I’m scared that my boys will sexually assault someone.
I’m doing my part to raise boys who understand consent and that they are absolutely never entitled to their partner’s body. However, that does not mean they will listen. There are no guarantees that they will remember what I’ve taught them about enthusiastic consent. It doesn’t mean they won’t pressure their partner to go further. Everything I’ve done to teach them about nonverbal cues could simply be ignored at the moment.
I hope all the times I’ve rocked them to sleep and whispered in their ears “you will not grow up to be trash” will stick. I hope that every single time I’ve reminded them that “we are all entitled to our own bodies” play in their ears when the time comes. I also hope that if they don’t heed my words they will have the decency to accept the consequences of their actions.
I’m scared that my boys will be falsely accused of sexually assaulting someone.
I know this seems like a contradiction to my previous fear but when you’re raising Black sons at the intersections of #MeToo and Emmett Till it’s never that simple. Last week I wrote about the dangers of white women and of course while it ruffled some feathers, it also forced me to face a huge fear. The fear of my sons making the choice to partner with a white person.
I know it’s 2018 and love is love but white supremacy is still alive and well. Making the choice to date or partner with a white person will be dangerous for my sons. There are still white fathers who will have zero hesitation in blaming my child even if the act is consensual and I know that I can’t trust the justice system.
I’m certainly no longer scared of bugs, stepping on LEGOs in the middle of the night, or everything being covered in dirt but there are larger fears that I have when it comes to raising Black boys in America and this post just cracked the surface.
What scares you about raising children?