Everyday, I Fear for His Life

He’s 21.

He’s handsome, smart, charismatic and he’s black.

He is my oldest grandchild; and everyday, I fear for his life.

He lives in South Florida… known for a lot of things, but not so much for it’s progressive, unbiased, open minded, or magnanimous beliefs, attitudes, or behaviours.

According to a June 2, article, written by William Roper, black Americans are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be killed by police. In my gut, I believe those figures to be even greater in Florida.

The Florida Jim Crow laws were not overturned until 1964, when President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. I had been living on this earth for 10 years, before those reprehensible laws were taken off the books.  

Please know that Florida did not go down silently… Below is an example of a Sarasota city ordinance that was passed in 1967! That’s 3 years after the Civil Rights Act was signed!

1967: Public accommodations [City Ordinance] –Sarasota passed a city ordinance stating that “Whenever members of two or more races shall be upon any public…bathing beach within the corporate limits of the City of Sarasota, it shall be the duty of the Chief of police or another officer…in charge of the public forces of the City… with the assistance of such police forces, to clear the area involved of all members of all races present.

So instead of allowing blacks to enjoy Sarasota beaches, with everyone else… they would use their publicly paid police force, to close the beach and they’d send everyone home!

…but this is not about Florida.

This is about my grandson.

This is about the text message I felt compelled to send to him the other night. A message telling him I loved him and reminding him that if he is stopped by the police {for any reason} he needs to slowly put his hands on his head and (again slowly) kneel or lay on the ground. (I’m freaking out now, because I forgot to remind him to be extra polite, not talk back, not make any sudden moves, and NOT to, for any reason, reach for anything in his pocket!)

My fear is real… He’s young, he’s smart and he’s got that 21 year old chip on his shoulder. He knows right from wrong, good from evil, and he’s not afraid to call out injustice. He also is fully aware of when he is being disrespected… or marginalised.  

I have nightmares about being woken up in the middle of the night, by the ringing of a telephone somewhere in the distance; when I finally answer it, I hear only the screams, of what I know to be, my daughter’s voice.  She doesn’t say anything… she doesn’t have to. I already know.

What happened America?

I remember Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I remember the 1965 Voting Act, that would prohibit discrimination in voting. I remember being so hopeful and optimistic that “we,” the hippies, were going to turn things around. We were changing the world, a world that had been so very wrong, for so many years. 

We were on a roll. 

We had this. 

Discrimination and bias was going to be a thing of the past… a thing of our parents generation.  

We were having children of our own and we were teaching them to see the PERSON, not the COLOUR.

We stood shoulder to shoulder with our friends of colour, to call out, what we thought were just residual acts/behaviours of intolerance and injustice.  What we thought was the last of the bullshit.

What happened?

When did things stop and turn back around? 

When did life, especially a young black life, become so expendable?

We read about a police officer, kneeling on a man’s neck and throat…kneeling long enough to kill him.  We see photos of his fellow officers looking on and even assisting him in holding the man down and we barely blink…  “Tisk, tisk,” we might say, “What a shame…” and then we move on. 

Unaffected, unemotional, unfazed.

Why?  Because, subconsciously we know it will never happen to us, or our children. So, whatever. 

We are much more disturbed by the media’s coverage of black people marching, looting, throwing stones and setting cars or fire. These are the images that truly disturb us. 

…but this isn’t about what’s happening in the USA. 

This is about my grandson.  

My pride and joy. One of the few loves of my life. The person who I fell madly in love with, as I watched him fight his way into this world. Little did he know the odds were stacked against him.

I remember the obstetrician handing me a surgical instrument and asking if I wanted to cut the cord…. I did, and within seconds, he was cleaned, wrapped up and handing him to me, his “Grandma.” 

I was forever hooked. 

The thought of losing him to a mistake in identity, or to an overzealous cop, or because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, sickens me.  It literally puts knots in my stomach, just thinking about it. 

He is a good kid… he doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t steal, or cause trouble… but he’s a kid and he’s black. 

He has no idea how the ‘real’ world works.  This world, in which young black men (women and children) are seemingly dispensable.  

Subconsciously he probably believes it could never happen to him. 

I’ll bet that’s what they all believed.

17 Comments

  1. I haven’t the words for the fear you must have, I know how I would feel if it was my grandson.

    Keep safe, young man and follow grandma’s advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lissa:

    It’s been a while that I have contacted you- with COVID19, furlough’s and life in general i personally have the same fears as you! I have two beautiful babies in NC that I fear for, much younger than your grandson but the fear is there. I remember as a kid watching TV and the riots in Watts!!! WTF I am 64 years old and I am watching the same thing!!!! Life has its ups and downs our children should not have to worry about of all things the police!!!! My fear is your fear a phone call and I will pray for all🙏🙏🙏🙏!!! Love you ❤️🤗💚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI!!! It has been awhile… I figured you were really busy doing a hundred different jobs at the hospital!!!!! Furloughed huh? How is that for you? Good or are you going crazy! More in an email…. xxxxx

      Like

    2. Hello my Love… I miss talking to you! And yes I remember this same ol shit from when I was a kid… things are supposed to improve, not stay the same or get worse!!!!! Use your VOTE, we have to change this!

      Like

  3. We thought and talked about how this must be affecting you and your very real fears for your grandson, but we have no answers. Like you, I thought we had moved forward in the 60s, only to realize we have moved backwards and I truly don’t understand why! I wish I had a magic wand that showed the good in people of every color, but I only have a voice and a vote, will use both. 💋

    Like

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