How do you tell your son….. I am so sorry but I don’t feel comfortable allowing you to go to a weekend summer camp with your church and friends out of state? Did the church do something wrong? No they did not. Did you hear bad reviews about the camp site? No I did not. Do you not believe in the teaching of the church? No it’s not that, I absolutely believe in the teachings of the church. In fact the message this Sunday when I attended was magnificent. Then why say no? Why say no, why say no when you always support your children’s passions? I said no, because I didn’t feel comfortable allowing him to attend and go to a camp site in another state. I said no because …..my son is black. I said no because in his group he would have been the only teenager of color. I said no, because daily it is hard to watch the news, or be on social media because of the injustice that seems to happen regularly to people of color. I said no because my 16 year old gentle giant is not only black, he is 6’2, dark skin, pure muscle, athletic football player and god forbid someone is intimidated by him.
Intimated by my son? the young man that reads his bible daily, that has strong faith, that studies his word, that loves Jesus. Intimated by my son? The gentle giant that everyone who knows him loves him, his teachers all rave about him, the young man that goes to church, plays football, and plays video games. Intimated by my son? Who is kind, well mannered, never gets into trouble, post more about Jesus on his social media pages than he does about anything else. Intimated by my son? The young man that does daily daily devotionals on is ig, the young man that truly wants to lead people to Christ and sees every one as a human being. How could anyone be intimated by a young man such as he? How could they….but what happens if a person that doesn’t know him….is intimated by him just because of his appearance. What then?
I can’t wrap my my mind around someone physically harming my son. However we see this more often than we should in the black community. This Sunday at church when I was speaking to the pastor and my son about him not being able to attend saying they words no broke my heart. The way my son looked at me when I told him he couldn’t go to church camp, was the same exact way he looked at me when he was 8 and I was explaining to him and his brothers how to conduct themselves if they are ever stopped by the police. That same look that pierced my soul when he was 8, pierced my soul now that he is 16.
I remember that conversation 8 years ago like it was yesterday when I was speaking to my 3 sons. I remember my youngest son asking me “mom, why are you telling us this? Why would the police stop me I’m only 8. I’m just a kid. It’s ok to put your hands in your pockets mom, that’s not a crime. Plus I don’t think a police officer would ever yell at a kid, that just isn’t nice.” Even as I am writing this I am crying. He always sees the good in people, he did at 8 the same way he does at 16. Even 8 years later that look of confusion, and hurt, never gets easier.
Dear son, I am sorry. I am sorry that some people may be intimated by you just because of the color of your skin. I am so sorry that we are still fighting for equality for all in 2021. I pray you know that I didn’t just say no to say no. I prayed about it, I thought about, it kept me up at night, I went back and forth with myself, ultimately there is just a huge part of me that didn’t feel comfortable. As your mother I will forever do my best to protect . you. Please don’t let this moment discourage you. Please know that there are so many more good, genuine people than there are bad. Please don’t lose faith in greatness of humanity. I pray for the day you are an adult, Inpray that when you have a family, that you never have to have these conversations with your children. I pray your children, my grandchildren can grow up where they aren’t judged because of the color of their skin. I pray that as we as humans are able to stand for what’s right, no matter how uncomfortable the conversations may be. I pray we humans can be the positive change we want to see in the world….I pray for the day a mother can tell her black son yes he can go to church camp out of state and feel great about her decision in doing so.