My husband bought a gun. And I don’t like it. Not because I don’t like guns. Nah, that answer is too simple. The real answer? Because he’s Black.
A Black man in the south carrying a hand gun in 2017. That’s a recipe for yet another Black Twitter hashtag. I understand why he wants one and I understand his desire to protect our family. But as a Black man, he was born with a target on his back. And that gun? That’s a target on his front. Every day when he leaves here, I worry. I worry about him every single second; especially when he is in a car. He drives a total of two hours back and forth to work each day…. that adds up to a lot of worry for me. A few weeks ago he called me and told me that he had been pulled over. My heart lurched into my throat and I immediately wanted to reassure him, to make him feel okay. But all I could say was, “Be safe, baby.” A million thoughts zig zagged through my mind: Are his hands visible? Is his weapon visible? Does he have the proper documentation? Is he remembering to speak calmly? I hated that I wasn’t there to help reign in his temper. I paced around and around and then something hit me: It didn’t matter if he hit every single expectation during that traffic stop because nothing could stop him from being Black. And that’s the problem.
The relief in his voice was evident when he called me almost a half an hour later. He says that everything went smoothly or as smoothly as can be expected. The officer noted the gun and all of his documentation was a okay. We both sighed…a sound filled with relief but there was something else that lingered there….an echoing what if? What if it hadn’t gone smoothly? What if the officer had deemed the gun as a threat and used that to justify pulling his on my husband? Suppose my husband had scratched his nose or nervously shifted his weight? Would he be a trending topic right now? Would his picture be the one consuming the news and flooding our timelines? Could I be the grieving spouse who lost her husband at the hands of a yet another “cop just doing his job?” The answer to all those questions is yes. And that scares the hell out of me.
You see, I don’t only have a Black husband, I have a Black son and the fear I have for his life grows every day. Right now, I can breathe a little easier because he’s still at my side. But when he’s out on his own with no mommy to watch his every move, then what? Right now he thinks that cops are superheroes that take away all the bad guys. How will his world fall apart when he finds out that he is the perceived bad guy? How did Tamir Rice feel as his life was taken? A baby. He was a baby and he is gone…a senseless, gut wrenching crime. The reality that that could be my own baby boy is almost too much bear.
I just finished reading “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas and it definitely inspired me to get out of my writing funk (I won’t pretend like I don’t know that I’ve been missing in action). That book was one of the best I have read this year and that statement doesn’t come lightly. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t read it, and you SHOULD read it, but it delves into a cop killing of a 16 year old boy and all that comes with that. It is told from the point of view of the only eyewitness and although it is a heart breaking story, it is one that needs to be told. It takes us into the lives of that family, his friends. Their struggle is real and raw. Their pain is palpable and jumps off the pages with heavy blows. This story was more than just good; it was necessary.
Until next time, keep smiling.
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