Behold, children in hoodies:
I have to stop reading the Trayvon Martin stories, because they're making me crazy with worry, but I can't help myself. He looks so much like my son. And he's not the only one. Sure, the Boy is now only 3 years old and is hardly someone who could credibly be described as threatening, no matter what he's wearing.
But someday he'll be 11 and then 14, and then 17. Someday he'll be in his early 20s. Someday he might be walking down the street to his first job interview and pull out his cell phone to make a call and some lily-white fear-based whacked-out nutjob will whip out his state-authorized concealed weapon and threaten my child's life.
Please, universe, let my son stay calm and remember what he has to do. Let him keep his hands visible at all times. Let him speak calmly and move slowly. Let him be brave enough not to run and smart enough not to turn his back. Let him stand up for himself without being aggressive. Let the person he's dealing with have half a brain and some modicum of human compassion.
I worry that we won't have prepared him for this. I worry that he'll be too comfortable in white culture, that he won't have developed that sixth sense that might keep him from harm. I worry that after all the hue and cry is over and done with, the nation will forget this horrible killing -- and all the others -- and return to pretending that race doesn't matter.
We're at the stage now where our most difficult talks are things like "yes, that lady is not very nice to those doggies" or "no, it's not okay to throw a kicking screaming tantrum in a restaurant." I absolutely hate that our talks will soon have to be much more serious. How do I explain the lunacy of 400 years of racism to him? And how much does it suck -- for him and for all those other kids whose skin happens to be brown -- that their parents have to have these conversations with them?