Let’s be real here. We are moms. We live in the United States of America. We all want the best for our children and bright futures. Unfortunately, some children of ours have more odds stacked against them than others. The least we can do, as parents is, educate. Let’s talk to our kids about history; the history in the books at school and the history that was lived but rarely taught. Let’s talk about race and how it affects some more than others. Let’s do our part.
Over the past few weekends, I’ve attended protests to speak out against police brutality. I am a single mother of a 4 year old. I went and will plan on going to more because I want a better future for my son and other children. I put on long sleeves and jeans, wore my scarf, my mask, and hat to protect myself as much as possible. I also carried hand sanitizer. I showed up and I was glad to see other protesters in masks too. The first protest I attended started with kneeling in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same duration officers kneeled on Floyd. While this occurred, I saw a family of 4 at the corner observing. The father was carrying a little girl and the mother had been steering the stroller with her young son in it. What I heard next warmed by heart. The little girl asked what was happening because it’s not everyday you see a group of people kneeling at a roundabout. Her mother began by recalling a conversation she had had with her daughter days before:
“Do you remember when we talked about how people are born with different skin colors? Do you remember the book we read together about that? Some have yellow skin, some have black, some have white and some purple?”
The little girl nods her head.
“Well right now, there are some hurtful things happening to people that have a darker skin color than us. They are trying to show us that what happened to them was wrong and they want people to treat them better because we are all humans.”
I mentally wanted to thank the mom for bringing this awareness to her daughter in the most age appropriate way possible but the moment of silence was more important in that moment. That little girl was in good hands. The rest of the protest was riddled with instances of people yelling “All lives matter!”, middle fingers thrown up, and a protester almost being ran over by an angry driver. The highlight was when we helped a gutter cleaning company’s employees push their truck and trailer out of the mud and cheered them when they drove off. It’s all about helping our community be better.
The second protest I attended, I wore the same attire and showed up. It was at a farmer’s market with people of all walks of life. This protest had more people and of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. I was towards the end of the group and not even 2 minutes in, I started hearing a guy telling us to “Go back home. All lives matter!” I am the type of person that tries to connect with people in hopes of reaching their heart to show them why we need to be here instead of home. I stopped to have a conversation with this man.
He mentioned how Black people needed to stop having children out of wedlock and go to school so they can be better and avoid police brutality. I mentally collected my jaw off the floor and started to explain systematic racism and how even the educational system in Black neighborhoods were given less in every aspect, than the rest of the already underfunded school system. I had 2 people stand with me and try to reason with him and they left. Then a family of 4 stepped in to try and reason with him along with a photojournalist. The mother joined me in explaining to this gentlemen that it is important to be active listeners and not just listen to reply negatively. It echoed the parenting techniques we teach our children everyday. The man started mentioning that we made good points and wished us a good day and left.
I thanked the mom for speaking up with me while carrying her child, with her older child listening intently on her side to the dialogue. She said that she was sorry I had to deal with people like that and that she wished she could’ve done more. Little did she know that by standing up to that man and stating facts in front of her children, she just added 2 bright allies to the future who aren’t afraid of speaking up for the oppressed. I also thanked the young photojournalist who stayed with me while the rest of the crowd had marched forward into the distance.
This protest was not met with that much opposition but it was filled with many different voices who shared their experiences with the group. We learned about the history of the area we marched in and how it underwent gentrification. We had a mother show us papers her 3rd grader son had to sign WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT that stated he can be excluded from certain school activities and that he can be investigated by the law if he does anything against school guidelines. There his name was signed on the dotted line. This child did not know what that entailed let alone the loophole his school created for police involvement without his parents’ knowledge. There were also those who shared their support for the movement. Who promised to do whatever they can to ensure justice and equality is restored to all people. I left that day with concern over the future of our kids but with an added level of hope.
“Who’s next?!” “NOT ME!”
Sadly, a few days later, Rayshard Brooks was shot. We will continue to speak up. This is all our fight.
These are pictures from the protests. Faces blurred for privacy.
Written by: Raneem Sokkarie