Baltimore Civil Unrest Puts My College Concerns In Perspective

05/04/2015 02:25 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2016

By now most parents and high school seniors have sent in their deposits for college admission this coming fall. And for many parents, myself included, it has really hit home by now that my baby is going away to college. However this May, especially in my city of Baltimore, I have become keenly aware that for some mothers sending their sons off to college, there is a lot more to worry about than just tuition costs or drinking on campus.

Having an only child a little later in my life and being an ER physician who has seen the worst, I admit I have been a tad over-protective! And thinking about my son going away to college next year is hard for me. I have tried to back off on requiring a text when he arrives or just prior to departure from his various destinations. Despite knowing his whereabouts every minute of the day now, I have to reconcile that next year I won't. And I know I have to get used to it. Of course there are the concerns every mother has; will he be eating properly or dressing warm enough to walk to through campus in the winter? Will he get enough sleep? And will he be able to delegate his time well to studying without me asking him if his work is done? Don't get me wrong I trust him completely, and I admit I am a worrier; it's my prerogative as a mother.

But this week in Baltimore makes my concerns seem trivial. I have a close African American friend whose son has gone to school with my son since kindergarten and I worry for her. I can't even imagine how it must feel to send your son away to school and have to worry about his physical safety. To worry that any day he could be stopped by a police officer that might mistakenly act first and asks questions later.

As an ER doctor who has worked and trained in both Detroit and Baltimore, sadly I have seen and treated inner city violence among African American youth. I have seen first-hand the socio-economic issues such as poverty and joblessness that leads to hopelessness that is responsible for much of this violence. We all have so much more work to do today to help our inner city youth. However as an African American, it seems that making it into the middle class, doesn't make you immune. An another close friend and colleague who is also an ER doc has described to me, being stopped for no reason in his nice car other than just being stereotyped and "driving while black."

My son's friend lives in a beautiful neighborhood, goes to a great school and his parents are educated and executives in corporate America. His mom should just have the same worries we all have sending our first child off to college. Tell me, why today even with our first African American president, does my friend have to entertain these kinds of concerns when she sends her beloved, smart, talented child away to school?