Melissa Harris-Perry’s heartfelt letter of sympathy for Mike Brown‘s mother Lesley McSpadden made me cry. Ugly snotty tears. For Lesley. For Mike Brown. For Black mothers. For Black children. For a country that refuses to acknowledge its race problem and how it is tearing us apart. Witness Melissa’s words:
I know what Officer Wilson has been said about Michael. About what he looked like. What he did. How he had no choice but to shoot and kill Michael. I beg you to hold onto the things that you know about Michael that none of us can ever know: the precious weight of his baby self when he snuggled into your arms as an infant; the thrill and pride he had when he learned to ride a bike; the adolescent rebellion and experimentation he asserted as he tried out being his own man.
The struggle he endured to finish high school. The dreams he nurtured of making music and bigger life. Officer Wilson was there in the final moments of Michael’s life. And far too many saw Michael’s body for hours after his death. A death and aftermath that have been so tragically, painfully public.
But to be a black mother in America has never been an entirely private matter. Going all the way back to slavery when enslaved Black women were expected to understand they were not giving birth to children; but instead producing units for sale. Black mothers were forced to pass along their enslaved status to their infants; ensuring intergenerational chattel bondage was the first inheritance Black mothers gave to Black children in America. But even then Black mothers found a way to love, nurture and cherish their children in a private place in their souls that no injustice could erase.
No matter how public his death, it is you, mama, who ushered Michael into this world, who heard his first cries, whispered the first prayer of gratitude for his life, and dreamed the first great dream for him.
You have a right to love, to honor, to remember, to grieve, to seek justice. No matter what happens next, we know it is you, not us, who has endured the greatest loss, and we are sorry. Truly, truly sorry for all that you have lost…
Press play up top to see Melissa Harris-Perry’s letter of sympathy for Mike Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden. But grab tissue first.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.