"Dear America, Please let me know, at what age do these sweet little faces become a threat. At what age are they no longer allowed the freedom to ride their bikes, play with toy guns, or go for a run without fear of death?
I must know the answer to the question that doesn't stop going through my head!!
At what age should I begin the process of taking their innocence away and enlightening them on how some people in America view them? Informing them on how they can potentially die from doing the exact same things their counterparts
can do feely and without question? At what age? Please tell me! This is a question I ask myself too many times to count- and my boys are only 2.
Signed, A Black Mom."
I posted this on my Instagram account @MarquitasTravels on May 7, 2020 in response to the hurt I felt due to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breanna Taylor. And 22 days later, May 29, 2020, my heart was led to write a post to black mamas. A result of the numbness, pain, and pure exhaustion I felt after the murder of George Floyd by the police. This man called out to his deceased mother as a police officer kept his knee on his neck for almost 9 minutes. Similarly, the incident when Amy Cooper falsely called the police on Christian Cooper, a black man in Central Park, may have hurt me the most. It reinforced the inherit racism that is embedded in the American culture. It reinforced how simple interactions could be the first step in the potential death of a black man. And as a Mama to black boys, it hurts. It hurts deeply. It confirmed the lingering fear that no matter how much success my boys may have, there will still be people who will attempt to use their blackness as a way to limit, threaten or end their lives. Christian Cooper went to Harvard and was an editor for Marvel Comics. The icing on the cake are the daily reminders of discrimination & white privilege in my personal life. For example, my two white male co-workers braggingly exchanging stories about how the police gave them pass for drunk driving and other petty crimes. The fact that they were having this 'good ole' boys' conversation in the presence of myself and another mother of black boys is proof of how white America, especially males, don't realize their privilege. If these same incidents happened to black boys, the outcomes for them are statistically very different. These types of interactions are a reminder of how my boys won't receive the grace that their counterparts freely receive. That they must be extra cautious navigating the mistakes they may potentially make as they grow up, while their counterparts can freely live their lives while rarely thinking of the potential repercussions. Despite this pain and fear, we as black people - especially children - deserve joy. We deserve to explore the world and have experiences. This is one of the reasons why I travel with my toddler boys. They need to know that they are more than what America says they are. That there is more to the world than only America and American views, beliefs, and customs.
In addition, travel is the best teacher. It gives them exposure and appreciation for other cultures, people that may be different than them. Within getting accustomed to being around others who are not like them, they get a sense of connection and belonging, no matter where they may be. I want my boys to feel like they belong when they are volunteering at an orphanage or staying at a luxury hotel. I want them to know that every experience is an opportunity to learn and potentially teach others. This type of exposure and relationship building with others that may be different than you are paramount to eliminating racism. My ask to other mamas is that they lead by example for their children. That they expand their network beyond folks that look like them. Travel to countries where black and brown people are the majority. And when you do, step outside of the resort to learn about that culture and their people. At home, join diverse organizations and groups. Read books on the black experience and the embedded racism not only in America but around the world. At the minimum, mix up your social media feed to learn about black people and our daily experiences. In addition, make sure you have the hard conversation about systematic racism and white supremacy, including how your family may benefit from it while it's a detriment to others. Most importantly, call out your family and friends for their beliefs, and most definitely actions, that are embedded in racism. Doing so just may prevent my boys from experiencing the pain of being judged, and potentially harmed because of the color of their skin.
Marquita Wright is a wife and Mama to traveling twin two-year-old toddlers. When she’s not working full time as a Global Account Team Leader, or chasing her twin toddlers around, she is working on inspiration, tips, and tools to help women and families take the guesswork out of travel. Her motto is “The world is our oyster, let’s explore it!”
Anti-Racism resources for adults and children:
Posted in recognition of the celebration of Juneteenth Day.
Juneteenth (a portmanteau of June and nineteenth; also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day) is an unofficial American holiday and an official Texas state holiday, celebrated annually on the 19th of June in the United States to commemorate Union armygeneral Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier and the American Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.
A common misconception is that this day marks the end of slavery in the United States. Although this day marks the emancipation of all slaves in the Confederacy, the institution of slavery was still legal and existed in the Union border states after June 19, 1865. Slavery in the United States did not officially end until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States on December 6, 1865, which abolished slavery entirely in all of the U.S. states and territories.