How do Black/sometimes White mothers deal with watching their children being shot on camera?

I did not grow up in the United States, and I don’t feel my exposure to racism is comparable because I moved here as an adult. I was not as impressionable as my children, but still, I was vulnerable, especially due to my lack of understanding. I may not know where to find the research and resources to address such struggles, but I continue to educate myself and carry on the discussion with my children.

As I talked to my children, I realized that my younger one was still hopeful and still seemed to be wondering. Then I recalled an incident when my son was nine years old: we saw a story about twelve-year-old Tamir Rice being killed. He asked me, “Mommy, are the cops going to kill me too?” I swallowed hard, fought the tears settling in my eyes, and attempted to form the words to provide a truthful, positive response. I felt inadequately prepared to assure my son, yet, I needed to rise to this occasion. My children needed me to assure them, and I needed to respond. The question had hit me like a punch in the gut, but I attempted to reassure him after a brief pause. You know, Daddy and other males in our family have not been shot. I said the probability of him being a victim was small, and I wanted to provide him with a sense of security.

After he left the room, I ran into the bathroom and cried for my child, and other children like him and mothers like me faced with this rather grim reality. I did not then grasp the gravity of how these scenes impacted him and did not anticipate how he individually felt targeted by such a scene. Now, at the age of fifteen, is he safe? I wonder what risk it is for him to walk in our suburban neighborhood. Then, more videos of the killings of young black men being shot by cops emerged. I quickly realized that I was not prepared to raise my son in this society. I did not know what to say or how to help my children. I tried to shield my children from racism as long as possible, but it was inevitable that they’d be confronted with it. The question was now, what do I do? This issue is discussed in more detail in my book.

by Dr Dash

May 24, 2022

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