Our viral post made national news... and we don't know how to feel
My post about an incident with Elijah went viral, but I know my story isn't knew.
Last weekend, Elijah was playing in the open grassy area at Armature Works.
He spotted a little blonde girl and began chasing her, filled y excitement at finding a new friend.
She ran over to her parents, pointed her finger at my son, and told them, "He's following me."
They looked at him, looked at me, and told her to stay close.
In that moment my sweet sweet boy went from being "cute" to scary.
He is two.
I cried all weekend.
I thought we had more time.
I shared this incident in a recent Instagram post, typing out each word with tears streaming down my face.
After I pressed "share", I went to the bathroom and the sobs become uncontrollable, so loud that my husband heard me and came downstairs to hold me while we cried, prayed, and talked about our hopes for a new world.
I know our story isn't unique-- not by a long shot. It's literally something that Black mothers think every day:
When women clutch their purses and lock their doors.
When our kids come home with stories of a classmate who said something about their skin or hair.
When a shopper looks on disapprovingly as our child yells in the store (something all children do.... but a luxury not afforded to Brown children who are already viewed as wild.)
This week, two Brown boys were murdered by police, and so the moment at the park was especially painful.
I normally read the headlines and groan, closing my eyes with a whispered prayer of, "Lord, please make things better before my son grows up."
Foolishly, I've held that fear at arm's length, selfish and delusional to think that my son would somehow escape a fate I've seen play out all too often for others.
And until we make the connection between little girls being scared of little brown boys to the daily tragedies of murder driven by racism, I don't know how hopeful I am that things will get better.
Elijah is only two, and has already experienced the dreaded vignette of a white girl pointing her finger at a Black man and claiming to be afraid.
He is only two.
I haven't been on social media all week, because it's been pretty wild.
I've oscillated between guilt, rage and sadness, and the scrolling sends unpredictable waves of each emotion.
The Instagram post I made about the incident went viral, with more than 16,000 people reacting to the incident.
And then a journalist from Good Morning America emailed to ask about the post, and she informed me that she wanted to cover it in an upcoming story.
I'll admit: I was hesitant at first. As a publicist and business owner, I thought, "Whoa, of all my business ventures, this is the thing that makes national news?"
I was also protective over Elijah, cautious over his face being on such a major platform.
Ryan and I talked it over and decided that, if done tastefully, it could accomplish two things:
Help other Black mothers to feel seen; for them to know that-- despite what others may say-- the fear is not just "in their heads"
Show non-Black parents how they may be missing opportunities to teach anti-racist lessons to their children early; helping them see that their "small" acts of discrimination are directly connected to the tragedies we're reading in headlines
The story also appeared on ABC News:
I went ghost on social media for a few days, and I returned to messages from Black mothers saying, "I feel you," white mothers saying, "I hear you", and I was encouraged once more.
It's my hope that we begin to wake from our ignorant slumber, and do the work of creating a world of justice and harmony for our children... like their lives depend on it.
Major thanks to Katie Kindelan for making space to tell our stories.