We were on the phone yesterday, still reeling from yet another bizarre court case where a murdered child was on trial for existing in public. My oldest son is 14, taller than me, with a man’s voice and the over-sized hands and feet that come with imminent, but not yet reached physical maturity. To me, he is the embodiment of a roaming piece of my heart. I carried him, nursed him, and taught him. He will always be my baby. He is his father’s buddy. They communicate in a language of comics, art, video games, and jokes that are so very them. My youngest son adores his big brother, and while he is also my baby, I can see that like his older brother some day he will be a giant in my house. I worry for all of them in that way that you do when society says that the people you love are worth less, and frames their very existence as a crime. Trayvon Martin’s death and Jordan Davis’ death are the most recent, but far from the only examples of this phenomenon that they called lynching until very recently.
They worry for me, because violence doesn’t observe gender lines and Rekia Boyd’s death wasn’t that long ago. Renisha McBride’s death is even more recent. And each time, the slain are on trial first, long before their killers have to worry about consequences. These stories have become so common that my friends and I have developed our own rituals around the outrage cycles required to force a trial, and around the results of the trials. We talk online and off, suggest self care tactics, and hug each other’s babies regularly. I am Tete Mikki to Jamie’s son, and while I fuss about his tiny size and random toddler outbursts, he is my baby as much as any of the others. Jamie knows my sons, has babysat them, nagged them, and demanded they stop teasing her about being so short. So, when we sat on the phone, we were half going through our normal rituals and half boiling over from outrage exhaustion. It does some thing awful to your spirit to constantly have to insist on your humanity, and the humanity of those you love. To be part of a community so frequently demonized, in refutation of documented history and current events, is to be forced to fight for your life and the lives of strangers constantly. We talked about a baby picture posted by @miss_hellion, the myth of black danger, and we started brainstorming hashtags.
#DangerousBlackKids is not about proving our worthiness to live to those who would handwave our murders. It is not about being respectable enough to deserve life. It is about being human in public, with each other, for each other. It is a reminder to ourselves that we will never be the monsters society would like us to be, that we are complex, complicated, and eminently worthy of life because we are here. We will always be here. We will fuss, feud, fight, and be a family regardless of what outsiders want to see. Our children are precious to us, to their friends, to the communities that we inhabit. And no matter how many times we have to fight for them, or for ourselves, we will keep fighting for as long as it takes to win. Because we are always worth it. We will never stand silent in the face of destructive forces. Just as we work within our communities to heal them, we will work outside our communities to stop the next generation of traumas from being inflicted.