“Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.” -Ella Baker, 1964

TravonMartinOh, how I love my little boy.

He’s sweet, kind and generous. He does things like share his last bite of ice cream with me because it makes me smile. And he gets disappointed when we are at the farmer’s market and we don’t stop for the ‘rainbow roses’ because “it makes Mommy so happy!” I’m sure that many of you parents could write similarly loving, glowing phrases about your sons and daughters and how they have enriched your lives and filled your hearts.

Just this morning I had the experience of taking my son to his pre-school class and watching him engage in play with the other little children, when all of a sudden, a slightly older boy stuck out his foot and made Liam trip.

My internal response was IMMEDIATE. Who do you think you are? Hey, don’t do that to my child! How dare you hurt him so! What I said was, “Excuse me, that’s not very nice. You could have hurt him. Please don’t play like that.” Then, Liam got up, brushed himself off and said, “I’m ok, Mommy,” before continuing to play with the other kids.

“Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

One woman who can no longer protect her little boy is Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton. And my heart breaks for her as I know that she would have wanted to have done exactly that on the night he was killed. She might have even thought the same things I did: Who do you think you are? Hey, don’t do that to my child! How dare you hurt him so!

“As the mother of a living white boy, how do I (and my husband) educate him on his responsibilities, his duties, to live a just life where he can stand alongside others and say, “Trayvon’s life is just as important as mine. His protection is just as important as mine”?”While no one will ever really know what was in George Zimmerman’s heart and mind except for him, what we do know is that Trayvon Martin was an innocent, unarmed young black boy who was killed for no reason at all. The injustice, the tragedy, the hurt and the loss—all overwhelm me both as a mother of a son, and as a citizen who believes that the color of my skin should not give me any advantage over another, even though I know it does. And so now, as the mother of a living white boy, how do I (and my husband) educate him on his responsibilities, his duties, to live a just life where he can stand alongside others and say, “Trayvon’s life is just as important as mine. His protection is just as important as mine”?

“Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

I wish I knew the right words to express my shock, anger, sadness and frustration that such a thing as killing a young, unarmed black boy would not result in the sentencing of the man who did it. Even moreso, I struggle with how to remember this experience so that when opportunities arise, I can share it with Liam. For now, all I know is that I can say to him, without a shred of a doubt, “I love you and want to keep you safe for the rest of my days. Let’s work together to make sure that others can be protected, too, regardless of their skin color.”

Carrie Nantais

Carrie Nantais, M.Div., MA, currently lives in Detroit, MI with her husband, David, and two sons, Liam (age 6) and Theo (age 3). She is completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology in May, 2017. Her areas of interest include: integration of spirituality and psychology, forgiveness, trauma and resiliency and women’s health issues. When she takes care of herself, she enjoys yoga, being creative, singing loudly in the car and laughing with her family.

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