What Do I Tell my Son About Eric Garner and Michael Brown

by Robin Boland

What do I tell my son about Eric Garner and Michael Brown?

I was asked what I tell my son about the recent murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown & Tamir Rice.

What do I tell him about our country’s history, drenched in the blood of 500 years of state sanctioned murder?

What I tell him is to never, EVER, go in the front yard with his BB gun. It’s clear plastic with an orange tip but what does that matter? He can hear in my voice that I’m terrified.

I tell him to be wary.
Wary of their narrative.
The narrative where my Irish/West Indian boy is a black man with a gun.

His free preview of this future was watching his father be handcuffed for his “attitude”. Original ‘charge’? Not tapping his Orca card. That was the last day my husband ever rode the light rail.

But what do I tell the world about my son?

That EVERY man you see was once a baby, cradled at his mother’s breast.

That ‘man’ you have pinned to the wet sidewalk? He’s somebody’s baby.

It’s not that I’m naive enough to believe they’d pick him up, brush him off and send him on his way.

But …..what if white America wasn’t (quite literally) so deathly afraid of black men? What then? I’ve not yet lived in that world so I can’t say.

But that’s what I’d tell the world about my son. That he’s somebody’s baby.

Robin Boland lives in Hillman City and is known to her friends as “little bird.”