My son is black.
I am a father.
I love my son more than anything in this world.
Today, I am also tired, furious, and heartbroken.
Every parent wishes for a better life for their child.
Every parent wants their child to grow up in a better world than they did- to have more happiness, more opportunity, more joy, less pain, less suffering, less danger. We all want our children to grow up in a world filled with less inequality. A world where injustice has been more fully eclipsed by love and compassion.
On days like today, I feel powerless as a parent to give these things to my son.
I used to think that supporting the #blacklivesmatter movement, or black activism in general, meant keeping silent and not speaking FOR my black brothers and sisters. I used to think that speaking up meant I was subconsciously using my white privilege to silence the voices of black people whose voices needed to be heard over my thoughts and opinions. I used to think that the best thing I could do, as a white supporter of black activism, was to sit down while I let other black people stand up.
That all changed when a room full of my black brothers and sisters at Facebook, at the recent #blacklivesmatter town hall, told me to stand up WITH them and let my voice be heard.So that’s what I’m doing.
In the wake of the recent murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, I can’t really describe words for how I feel when I think about their families- all of the birthdays these fathers will miss, all of the “firsts” they’ll never get to experience with their children. I can’t stop thinking about the empty seats at their children’s graduations. Daughters who will never be walked down the aisle by their fathers. Sons whose last memories of their dads will be images of their bodies bloodied and broken by unjustifiable violence. Christmas mornings without presents labeled “Love- Dad” under the tree. Nights not being tucked in. Mornings without a goodbye kiss. Days waiting for dad to come home, but never hearing his voice again as he comes through the front door after a long day of work. A lifetime of memories that will never be. Fathers robbed of the right to give their children a better life.
And these men and their families will never be given one good reason as to why.
My son is 4 years old. He is the joy of my life. Everything about him is magic. Literally. Everything. His perfectly contagious laugh. His sideways scoot across the floor. How he always wants to help out and be doing what I’m doing. The way he waves “hi” to people in this sort of upside down manner. How much he hates to have his teeth brushed unless he’s doing it himself (which barely counts). I love his crazy curly hair and his tree-trunk sized thighs. I love how he scowls at people he isn’t sure of and snuggles his face into my neck to feel safe. I love holding him until he falls asleep on my chest and then sneaking him into his crib with his favorite blue blanket and stuffed owl that makes ocean noises. I love that he won’t calm down at night until his daddy has come to give him a hug and pray over him before bedtime.
And I absolutely cannot stomach, tolerate, or comprehend the thought of my son being stopped by a police officer and being shot to death because of nothing else than the color of his skin.
I cannot permit a world where my son has to fear for his life and well-being in ways that I have never once had to deal with, simply because I am white.
I will give my son a better life than I had.I will fight for my son to grow up in a better world than I did.
It is my duty as a father. It is my RIGHT as a father.
This. Must. Stop.