Let me start this post by saying that I am not yet a biological mother. But I have "mothered" quite a few children in my 30-something years of life. As a public school teacher, I've dried tears, calmed fears, clothed bodies, provided encouragement, a safe haven, love, care - and countless other "motherly" things to the hundreds (yes, it's that many now) of 7-10 year olds I've taught.
I am not a biological mother. But I am a Godmother, Wife, Aunt, Sister, Cousin, Daughter, Friend to black men. And I'm afraid for them. I'm afraid because this country (and it's justice system) doesn't seem to care about them. I'm afraid because day in and day out, I encounter the smiles, laughter, hugs, curiosity, and naturally infectious personalities of many black boys. In them I see doctors, presidents, teachers, engineers, politicians, fathers, sons - I see the future in them. But I also see fear. I see fear because some people may mistake their rambunctious behavior for insubordination. I see fear because someone may mistake their outspoken and competitive nature for aggression.
I am afraid because I do not want to get a phone call, text or visit letting me know my little black boy (son, nephew, godson, cousin, brother, etc.) has been killed simply for being who he is - rambunctious, energetic, competitive, loving, passionate, male....and black. I am afraid because I may not get to see my little black boy live up to his full potential. I am afraid that due to societial pressures, the eagles wings meant to help my little black boy soar may be broken, and he can no longer fly. I am afraid because one day he may ask me or his father why does everyone fear me? Why does no one like me? What did I do wrong? And I won't be able to answer his questions. I'm afraid that instead of seeing love, I may see fear in my little boy's eyes.
I am not a biological mother, but one day I will be. And I may be a mother to a little black boy. When I look into his eyes, I do not want to see fear, I want to see hope. I want to see change. I want to see the future. Please join me and others, in praying for our sons - not only this week, but everyday. Pray for their blessings and protection. Pray that instead of fearing them, our country will embrace them. After all, if not for the backs (and labor) of black men (and women) - where would our country be?
Lights? I love lights! I believe lights to have saved my life once or twice. There have been times where I was driving while way too sleepy and may have been bobbing and weaving on the road only to look up and see the lights of the city and a great feeling of energy coming over me and being able to make it home safely. I love lights. I love the way fireworks light the sky. I love candlelight services of remembrance. I enjoy the lights of the holiday season and a reflection of the effort it takes to deck the halls, string the house and trim the tree. I love lights. I have an affection and fondness and appreciation for lights of all shapes, forms and presentations- I love lights…except when they are blue.
I am terrified of blue lights. I am absolutely, categorically, unapologetically terrified of blue lights. Blue lights lower my blood pressure. Blue lights raise my heartbeat. Blue lights make me scramble around in my car to hide crack pipes, liquor bottles and marijuana bags THAT DON’T EVEN EXIST! Blue lights make me lose my insurance card instantly. Blue lights make me drop my license when I pick it out of my wallet. Blue lights make me scared to even reach for my wallet (remember Amadou Diallo?) Blue lights make me nervous to even video the interaction with my cell phone (remember Eric Garner?) Blue lights make me grateful I snack on Peanut M&M’s and water instead of Skittles and Sweet Tea (remember Trayvon Martin?) Blue lights make me thankful that I’ve never had a smoking habit (remember Mike Brown?) and further thankful that I don’t have asthma (google Brian Dennison Florida.)
Blue lights behind me make me immediately search my mind for the last time I kissed my wife. When was the last time I told her, Mom, Shandrea, Steve, Dad that I loved them because these blue lights may fix it so that I never see them again. Blue lights make me thankful that my premiums are paid. Blue lights remind me to get right with God and stay right with God. Blue lights reinforce to me that this world is not my home. Blue lights bring to my memory my own preaching- that we should eliminate the word “fair” from our vocabularies. My license is good, my tags are current, my policy is paid, I don’t drive drunk, or high or reckless…and I still could be next.
Blue lights terrify me because I’m supposed to bury my parents, my parents aren’t supposed to bury me.
Blue lights terrify me because I have 41 years left to serve the A.M.E. church as an active Pastor and I’m looking forward to it.
Blue lights terrify me because I have 3 separate life insurance policies that are all fully vested but my wife says that “she can wait”.
Blue lights terrify me for the same reason gambling terrifies me- the house always wins and chances are, while no indictment will ever be returned and no charges will ever be filed, I’ll have a really sad funeral and a brief protest on the courthouse steps.
Blue lights terrify me so I wear my seatbelt. Blue lights terrify me so I keep my music contained inside my car. Blue lights terrify me so I drive no more than 8 over the speed limit and I break my speed when entering small towns and I nod my head at police officers and I use words like “sir” and “ma’am”.
Blue lights terrify me because my education, my pants around my waist, my driving record, my status in the community means nothing to an officer that says that my skin color fits a description.
God’s best be with you always,
Mrs. Erica S. Dowling
Rev. Sterling J. Dowling