I'm newly pregnant. I saw my first ultrasound
yesterday, which was the same day a St. Louis County grand jury announced their decision to not
indict Darren Wilson. My baby is the size of a grain of rice. My baby may
not make it into this world, but if he or she does, I don't want her to live in
fear of police like we do, or like my ancestors before me. Last night I sat on
the couch with my Jamaican/Jewish/Scandinavian husband, my white mother and my
black father, and we watched CNN. The grand jury's decision to not indict Wilson was spelled out on a split screen as Ferguson began burning.
We all sighed, even though we knew they wouldn't
indict. My father, who was born in the 1930s and—to put it plainly—has seen
some shit, just shrugged his shoulders but didn't seem particularly outraged,
more like he just expected it. My mother shook her head sorrowfully and my
husband exhaled sharply through his nose. I put my hand on my belly and
sent some love to the grain of rice, thinking about what kind of world it
would grow up in, and about how so much will depend on how he or she looks. If
he's tan with curly hair, he might look Latino. He might be at the wrong
place at the wrong time.
I want to see my child grow up and graduate college and get married and have babies of its own. I don't want to think about how race will affect that tiny flickering heartbeat. But I have to, and that is something probably every non-white mother in America thinks about.
In a white city like Denver, we will have to
teach him to be so careful. I don't want these thoughts; I want thoughts of a
nursery and teaching my baby how to read. I want to see my child grow up and
graduate college and get married and have babies of its own. I don't want to
think about how race will affect that tiny flickering heartbeat. But I have to,
and that is something probably every non-white mother in America thinks about—how
to protect their children, particularly their sons, from the police. Mike Brown's family will never see him make his own life because he lost
it at age 18, via six bullets. They will always know their baby was lying in the
street, dead, for four hours. I don't condone violence and I don't think burning
cars and stores and looting is going to erase the grief and outrage of a
family, of a town, of a community.
I would be lying if I said I didn't understand
the emotions that come up when an injustice like this is all over the news and
social media. A little part of me, maybe the part that wants to protect my tiny
grain of rice, wants change by any means necessary. I don't want my little one
to grow up saying, "Hands up, don't shoot."
goes out to Mike Brown's family and to the town of Ferguson. I can only hope
that out of the ashes will come the kind of changes that we need; closer
monitoring of police, body cameras and more dialogue about race relations in
this country. We need critical thought around our justice system and what
happens over and over again when white police use excessive force against
people of color. We need to explore the deeply ingrained racism and how it
plays out and continually affects all aspects of our society.
Race is a daily part of my life and it will be
a daily part of my child's life. I want a beautiful future for my baby, not in
a post-racial America but in a post-violent America. To paraphrase John Lennon, I
know some people will say I'm a just a silly dreamer but I'm really hoping I'm
not the only one.