Friday, July 9, 2010

On Oscar Grant...

I sat heartbroken yesterday when I learned that the verdict had come in on the Oscar Grant murder trial. Heartbroken but, sadly, not surprised.

As a soon to be mother of a child of color, I have thought many many times if I am doing the right thing, bringing a black baby into the United States. I have worried and wrung my hands over the fact that Ben and I are setting this child up for a lifetime of racial profiling, unfairness in hiring and housing practices, being stopped by the police just because of the color of his skin. How can Ben and I educate and teach this child how to respond to cases of racism, both individual and institutional, when we, privileged by the color of our skin, have never had to endure these hardships? Although we can be allies in this struggle that our son will no doubt face, we can never know what it feels like to be treated so horribly and unfairly. We will never understand being made to feel shamed by a color of skin we do not share with our son. One of my many hopes is that we can teach him to love himself, love his skin, love his community.

Today, while my son lies sleeping so many miles away from me, I sit and mourn for Oscar Grant and his mother, Wanda Johnson. The agony a mother feels when she loses a child must permeate every part of her. I cannot imagine there is a relief for that pain. We will never know what the future may have had in store for Oscar Grant, murdered at the age of 22. We will never know what contributions he might have made to society had he been allowed to live.

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