Why Did He Run? On Mike Brown and Parenting Brown Boys

I am tired of driving by makeshift memorials on street corners or Facebook pages or Twitter feeds.
Publish date:
August 13, 2014
parenting, racism, police, Mike Brown, Ferguson

"Why did he run?”

That’s the question that gets thrown back at me when I tweet about my frustration around Michel Brown’s murder by the Ferguson police. Yes, murder. That young man was slain—hands up, no gun in sight, barely human. His body lay in the street for four hours while police armed themselves for war with a community who’d just lost one of their sons.

It’s not fair.

I am tired of hearing about Black boys being murdered. I am tired of driving by makeshift memorials on street corners or Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. I am tired of being angry and wrung out. I am tired of hearing of the stories of boys who could be my son in a dozen years, cut down way before their time. I am tired of feeling like no matter what happens, no matter how messed up this is, it will happen again, and again, and again because our boys are not seen as human. They are thugs, violent, feared.

I am numb, and I ache all at once.

It’s hard to parent from a place of rage. Hard to encourage my son to be all he can be while being terrified that when he gets older he’ll be seen as a threat, a target, a stereotype. My son—all arms and elbows and long legs—is brilliant. But brilliance cannot save him from a cop’s gun, a racist’s fury, or some equally brilliant, but misguided young man who wasn’t hugged enough.

I don’t know what to tell my son about Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin or John Crawford or Oscar Grant or Jordan Davis or Eric Garner or Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell or Latasha Harlins or Aiyana Jones.

I do not want him to carry their burdens or my suspicion of the police, and this world, but what choice do I have, especially when I want nothing more than to keep him safe?

I do not know how to keep him safe, so I hug him tighter, tickle him harder, and try to make every single day count.


Reprinted with permission from Brown Boy Genius