Brown boys are not thugs. They are children.
We are living in a country that does not draw that distinction. We have repeated, recent cases where juries and law officials and citizens and judges do not value the lives of brown children. Brown, black, African-American -- however they identify, they are not being loved by the country they live in. Let us not be mistaken: just because we have a brown president does not mean racial problems are over. We watch an entire political party perform passive and not-so-passive bigotry on a daily basis. Perhaps it is not surprising then that white men feel comfortable to kill brown boys for existing, for eating Skittles and listening to loud music, and other normal teenager activities that suddenly threaten white men when performed by brown boys.
I am white, so there is only a limited amount of perspective I can probably add to this ongoing conversation. I grew up with white privilege, something that I didn't understand until I was older. But guess what, white people? White privilege exists. You are where you are today because of the color of your skin. And guess what, white men? You did not only succeed because of hard work. You are the most advantaged demographic in history, and yet you seem to feel most entitled to persecuting others, to taking away women's rights, and keeping the poor poor, and oppressing immigrants, and killing brown boys. But I guess at this point I should take a deep breath and say, this is not written in anger (okay, maybe a little) or hate, but in love.
It's time we loved all our children. Of course, it would be better if we loved all our citizens, but loving our children is a good start. It's time to ask ourselves honestly if our cities value their children equally. When you vote, think about who will take care of the children. If a Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis is killed on your streets, how will your city react? Of course, brown boys die everyday, and we never know their names. I think the names we never know is one of the reasons we will never forget Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and the grave miscarriages of justices that resulted from their deaths.
I am the mother of a brown girl, and the wife of a brown man. I met my husband in Tanzania, where my whiteness made me feel my first sense of otherness. And although it was just a small glimpse, living as a minority in a country where my race and gender made me a target -- of police, of possible robbery, of corruption, of being perceived differently by many that I met -- made me feel vulnerable. Now, I have given birth to a daughter who will likely identify as black or brown or biracial or something different than my white privilege identity. I have to wonder what kind of legacy we are setting up for our future children. When my husband and I first moved to the United States, Trayvon Martin was killed just a few months later. I grappled with how to process the death of a brown boy I didn't know, because I was fully aware that I had a brown African husband who knew little of racial politics in the United States and yet could suffer greatly from them. I had a brown daughter who might grow up less valued in our society's eyes. One day, even, we might have a brown boy ourselves, if we have a son.
Here's the thing, though. All our children have been devalued as of late. From lack of gun control, to our increasingly terrifying rape culture, we have a problem. We have a perverted idea of masculinity. We have politicians who don't care. We are raising citizens who serve in juries and let killers walk. The truth is, we are all affected by these deaths. It's time we all realize that we are Travyon's family; we are Jordan's family. Until we protect and value all of our children, all our children will suffer.
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