Mother to Son
Preparing for Civics Class, I learned that August 28 is not only the day I met my second favorite guy, but the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington, D.C. and delivered one of the most memorable speeches in history.
On August 28, 1963 Dr. King stood at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and spoke to over 250,000 supporters for racial equality.
The full text of the “I Have a Dream” speech can be found here.
It’s almost fifty years later and although the words of this speech are among the most recognizable in the country, many have lost sight of the meaning behind his words. Scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter timeline during the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial was proof enough. Some of the more angry people talked of riots like those after the trial for Rodney King. Other said hateful things about this pothead “N*gg*r” who deserved to be killed.
Turning away from social media for a while I thought watching TV with The Teen would be a distraction. This was not to be. I saw a trailer for Fruitvale Station.
How many more sons have to die?
Having a son approach 12 is a milestone for him and hell on me. He no longer lets me call him his nickname in public, and checks to see if his friends are around before I can give him a peck on the cheek goodbye. Following the lead of The Teen he calls me “Mom.” His hormones are kicking in and while I enjoy the attention to hygiene, the moodiness has to go. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Reading through the speech by Dr. King, I also have a dream.
I dream that one day I won’t have to include a “race” talk in my life talks. That when we talk about sex, me forbidding him to bring home anyone ratchet, and that higher education is a non-negotiable, I won’t have to explain the hidden codes of being a Black. The codes such as “Driving While Black” or “Walking While Black.” That there will be a day he will be mistaken for the ambiguous description “young, black male” because of an All Points Bulletin the police department has released.
I dream that my son will answer a person in authority with “yes sir, no sir” because The Mister and I raised him to do those things, not because he wants to avoid a case of police brutality. That if he reaches for a wallet he won’t be shot to death or two overzealous veteran police officers do not mistreat my son because they were having bad days and “lost it.”
I dream that people see my child for the wonderful young man he is being groomed to become. He is a Boy Scout, a future employee of Nintendo or Mojang (his words, not mine), a trumpet player. He taught himself to play chess, likes to run track and is a voracious reader. He has a quick sense of humor and likes to spend time creating things with Legos. His favorite musicians are Stevie Wonder and Queen. He has a beautiful smile but I already see it has begun to dim when I recount my day with my challenging coworker. He’s said on more than one occasion that he noticed more black students get into trouble than the white students in school and that he stays to himself because you can’t get into trouble that way.
Race relations are already difficult to navigate as a Black female in a white male-dominated world. I always thought that Black men had it a little easier, but as I watch my son mature I see that it isn’t always the case.
I pray that he keeps the lessons taught to him by The Mister and myself in mind as he matures.
I can also dream that words like these won’t need to be written as often in the future.
Raya Fagg is a mom of two from Upper Darby, PA. This post is adapted from her blog, And Starring As Herself…MRSRFKJ.