Two Black Suns

In light of the weekend’s Micheal Dunn verdict in Florida, I feel the need to bring this post to the forefront again.

NY Daily News: NYPD Allegedly Assault Staten Island Family – Killed Parakeet

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns in this country, this United States of America.

My late-husband and I together did our best to navigate them through the minefields.

In their Sesame Street days, they are taught – this is the land of opportunity. They learn, that the color of your skin shouldn’t matter. And we said shouldn’t matter because even at that young age of theirs, neither of us as black parents could get past the ugly truth lodged in our throats and say that it ‘doesn’t matter’.

In their grade school days, they are taught – this land of the free. They learn that some of us have to work twice as hard most times to afford it. When in stores, they learn do not touch anything unless you have the money to buy it. We do not yet teach them that they are not being watched because someone might think they will break it, but because someone might think they will steal it, but they learn.

In middle and high school – they are taught this home of the brave. They learn as long as they are brave within the accepted boundaries, and those boundaries are fluid. They learn that the police officer who was their friend in day care and grade school, may not be so now that their voices have dropped and their awareness of the world at large has risen. They learn this even when sometimes that officer is an officer of color.

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns in this country, this United States of America.

Our parents and my generation learn for the all the Martin Luther Kings and Malcom X’s there were the Emmitt Tills. That for the Rosa Parks there were the Eleanor Bumpers, for the Jesse Jacksons there were the Michael Stewarts, Yusef Hawkins and right around the corner from where my parents used to live when my sons were still children, Anthony Baez.

And as my sons made their way to manhood they learn that there are too many Rodney Kings, Amadou Diallos, Patrick Dorismonds, Abner Louimas, James Byrds, Sean Bells and now Jordan Davis.

In between what they are taught in school they are taught manners and respect and pride and faith, yes because it is the right thing to do. But they learn it may also keep them alive.

Yes, we were strict. Yes, we had rules. They learn to think of others as well as of and for themselves. They are taught responsibility and, like all children/teens/young adults, begrudgingly learn it.

They eventually learn curfews are not because I did not trust them to go out into the world, but because I did not trust the world to give them back to us. With one son sometimes too nice for his own good and the other sometimes too hot-tempered for his, if they are in the house, I am not worrying at 1am, at 2am, at 3am. I am not worrying if this will be the night, the night that the nightmare comes true and we get the call. The call that is the nightmare of every parent that must raise black boys to black men.

The nightmare that became the unfortunate reality for Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin – because like Stewart, Hawkins, Baez, King, Diallo, Louima, Dorismond, Byrd, Bell and Davis we know there are far, far, far too many Trayvon Martins out there never heard about in the news.

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns in this country, this United States of America.

They were taught that red of our flag is for the valor in fighting for the right to live free; the white for the purity and innocence of our thought and purpose and the blue for the justice to protect those rights. Though as black men those inalienable rights wouldn’t be put to paper for them for another 100 years, and to some form of actuality for another 100 years hence. They learn it can also be the red of their blood on a baton, the bullet from a gun, the edge of a blade or a fist from the white-hot rage of someone having his or her worst day that encountered them having one of the worst of theirs and the blue of their body growing cold in the morgue from the result of that confrontation long before I get the call.

They learn that their All American names will get the door to open. Then they learn that their not so all American looks will sometimes have those same doors close in their faces.

They are taught that though it is certainly better than it has ever been, they learn that there is still quite some ways to go.

My suns are now adults, living their lives as men. My late-husband and I did the best we could with what we had. We got them through the minefield to black adulthood relatively unscathed. I no longer have nightmares of the call. I go to sleep at night trusting we will all safely see the morning unharmed. However, I am guessing, so did did Evelyn Lugo when chaos crashed through her door.

Things like this happen and a mother’s worry does crop up again on such occasions – after all…

I am the mother of two suns.
Two black suns.
Two black suns living their lives as black men in this country, this United States of America.


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8 thoughts on “Two Black Suns

  1. This piece makes me think … I may not live in the US, but I have two suns as well, and just like you say, one is nice, the other is hot tempered … and this makes me pause and think. Even tho they are only 6 and 9, right now, they will not stay that small forever.

    Thanks for this write Rai.

  2. Oh, Rai. As the sister and aunt of black suns, this post charts my terrors, too.

    I saw too many people in our nice, quiet, friendly little town upstate use my brother’s color against him, spent too many late nights up worrying about where he was and what might be happening to him, spent too much time praying he could learn to bite back his temper … just sometimes.

    With my nephew I’ve worried less. His life has been so carefully scripted, so protected. But he’s out in the world now, a newly-minted 20-year-old with all the pride, confidence and swagger of a child who knows he is smart, knows he is capable.

    And I worry as he goes out into the world: how will he come back to us?

  3. I admire your ability to share something so close to your heart with the community at large. It is so important for us all to keep the reality of too many right in our hearts and eyes, and not the distant reality of a TV screen.

    I hope to raise my sons to be loud, unfailing advocates for chanigng this reality.

  4. This was a powerful piece. Your passion shone through with every word. I’m a white mom – with white boys. I’m a white teacher – with white students. Not only that, but I live and teach in an area filled with plenty. So often I am reminded that those with whom I interact on a daily basis have NO IDEA what the world is like for others. Those with different skin or less money in the bank. As an elementary teacher, I do what I can do start introducing my students to some of these truths. The world MUST change. It’s taken so many more years than it should have to even get this far.

    “All men are created equal” was a nice thought… but it’s still so far from a reality.

  5. This line is so beautiful (as is the whole post, but this particular line resonates with me at this moment): “They eventually learn curfews are not because I did not trust them to go out into the world, but because I did not trust the world to give them back to us.” These truths. Thank you.

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