I’m the mother of a son. He’s a peculiar young man. He grew up in the same household as my daughters and yet he’s quite different. Not a birthed baby, but a bonus since he was seven months old. He made our family complete. He was so uniquely male. He kept cats under the back porch. He tried physical exploits that almost got my husband arrested at the ER. He surfed off stone igloos on the neighborhood playground. He was always in trouble, but never lied when confronted. He made us crazy with his stunts in school. We were like extra students when he was in middle school. Every day either my husband or myself had to go to school to keep him in, or to spend the day so he could stay.
I’m the mother of a son. He chooses to live on the streets of Baltimore. And we don’t know why. He’s not a criminal. Even in this, he’s a leader. Has been since his Boy Scout days. Even on the streets he takes care of others and shares his goods. He’s a peculiar man. He’s got a smart mouth sometimes. He always takes up for himself. But when he was stabbed many times, probably because he mouthed off at the wrong person; homeless workers, God bless them, were devastated because he’s known to be a nice man who always looks out for others.
I’m the mother of a son. And every day my heart aches. He doesn’t drive so it won’t be in a traffic stop. But he’s got a smart mouth. And the very thought of an encounter with the wrong law officer at the wrong time makes me cry. As do the daily encounters-gone-wrong of other mothers’ sons. These young men are all our sons. And we can’t explain why our wombs weep for sons we didn’t birth. But they do. Every. Time.
I’m a mother of a son. And I wonder what policemen see when they look at my son. I wonder how selling loose cigarettes somehow alters the perception of my son. I wonder how passing a questionable dollar bill alters the perception of my son. I wonder how the sight of a toy gun renders my son dead within 12 seconds. I wonder why my son’s being too frightened to respond to orders in an encounter that promises his death is such an anomaly. My son the teacher. My son the soldier. My son the social worker. My son the guy on the corner. My son the guy getting married in the morning. My son with the Skittles and the Arizona iced tea. My son the homeless man. The uncle. The husband. The brother. I wonder why the sight of my son provokes such hate that he’s found hanged with a noose. Lynched. Multiple times. In multiple places. On multiple nights. Over and over.
I’m the mother of a son.