black son

By ADIBA NELSON

I’m about to make an admission that I’m not sure I’ve heard other Black women make, but I have a hard time believing have never thought—even if only for an instant. I sometimes contemplate the idea of having another child, but the possibility of having a Black son scares the shit out of me.

It’s true. I am absolutely terrified that I could get pregnant and give birth to a beautiful brown boy who will not make it to 13, because Black boys who play with toy guns get shot (Tamir Rice). If he makes it to 13, he may not make it to 16 because Black boys who wear hoodies get shot (Trayvon Martin). If he makes it to 16, he may not make it to 17 because Black boys listening to music with their friends in a car get shot (Jordan Davis). If he makes it to 17, he may not make it to 22 because Black men rididng trains get shot (Oscar Grant). And Black men reaching for their wallets get shot (Amadou Diallo). And if he makes it to 22, he may not make it to 43 because Black men standing on the corner get strangled to death (Eric Garner). And if he makes it to 43, I will spend everyday thereafter, much like I spent the days leading up to his 43rd birthday, dreading every late night phone call for fear that it is the hospital asking me to come identify my Black son’s body. I will peer relentlessly into every cop car I pass with a young Black man in it, stretching my neck to make sure that it’s not my Black son who’s been arrested for driving while Black, walking while Black, breathing while Black. I will hold my breath while listening to every news report of another Black man that has been arrested, beaten, killed, and made an example of. This is the honest fear that sits in the deepest pit of my stomach, and floats on the very top of my heart when I think about the possibility of having a Black son. 

This is the fear that sits in the deepest pit of my stomach when I think about having a Black son. Click To Tweet

This may sound morbid. I fully understand and accept that this is not every woman’s reality, but it is my reality. It is the reality that I am reminded of when I watch news coverage of yet another rally to protest yet another killing of another Black man. You may question me and ask, “What about your daughter? Don’t you fear for her life? Isn’t her life just as precious?”And to that I say, “Of course it is,” and up until recently I wasn’t too fearful. As lop-sided and biased as it sounds (yes, I’ll own that too), it hasn’t felt like it’s open season on black women. Then we met Sandra Bland. She was pulled over for changing lanes without using a turn signal. The dynamic between Sandra Bland and the officer changed when she would not put out her cigarette; she was charged with assaulting a public servant, placed in jail, and found hanging from a plastic bag in her cell three days later. The police department claims she committed suicide; I’m hoping you will forgive my five- minute-long side eye at that ridiculousness.

When I think of my daughter’s future, I am scared out of my mind. I think about it every day. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. She has special needs, so does that make her more or less vulnerable? More or less of a target? More or less Black? Here’s your answer: sadly, we are living in a time where being mentally ill, cognitively challenged, physically challenged, or unable to speak will never negate the fact that you are Black first. This is a sad reality, but it is the current reality.

And it is this reality that has forced me to be 100 percent honest when I say that I am scared to death to have another child, because that child could one day be my Black son that I am picking out a casket suit for, instead of a prom suit. This is my reality… my Black mom reality.

* * *

Adiba Nelson lives in Tucson, AZ ,with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, and two teenage stepsons. When she is not advocating for disability rights, body love/size acceptance, performing burlesque, or writing her face off, she is busy ironing her cape and looking for ways to fit more shoes in her closet. She is also the author of the children’s book Meet ClaraBelle Blue, and is currently working on her memoir. You can find Adiba at The Full Nelson.

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Denene Millner

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.

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