How Soon is Too Soon?

Yesterday I was told that during a car ride home, my 4 year old niece; at the sound and sight of the flashing lights of a passing police car said “They can’t see my eyes, if they see my eyes they’ll take me to jail.”

At what age do black children transform from being innocent babies into being seen as demons as Michael Brown was seen in the eyes of officer Darren Wilson?

At what age do black children began to recognize that they are seen in this way?

 

Ubuntu,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW, LLMSW

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I'm a Social Worker, Educator, and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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6 Responses

  1. ccchanel41 says:

    I had to come back to this and tell you how much I have always loved this poem..it brings me to tears each time….this entire last few weeks has brought me through so many emotions. Very good post. -alex

    • Thank you for your comment. I’ve noticed that you’ve “liked” some of my other notes as well, and I appreciate your support. This is a very difficult time.

      • ccchanel41 says:

        Yes, I am always unsure about leaving replies on blogs that do not have any. As well as in situations like this. You have a remarkable blog though. It has been a difficult time for myself, I cannot imagine for others. Very happy to support in any way I can. Please know I have shared on social networks and the “like” was to show my respect for the post.
        CC

        • Somewhere along the way I made a policy of using the term “like” in quotation marks when it pertains to blogging buttons or social media sharing. I’m glad you did like those posts because, since I’m not a wordpress.com user when other WP bloggers “like” my notes, it allows me to find their works, make a connection with them, and possibly even become a regular reader of their work, so I encourage it. I hope you continue to like my notes if they resonate with you in any way moving forward.

          I also thank you for sharing my notes across social networks, because I hope to help others realize they are not alone in what they might be feeling, as well as find ways to take action, while inspiring others to do so in their own ways.

          In terms of the topic, it’s been a roller coaster of emotion with the constant reminders that black people are seen as problems in America. While I’m reaching back to ponder when I had my first experiences with racism and mistreatment by police, I did not know that my 4 year old niece had these feelings, as we have not yet had those kinds of conversations with her at that point. One thing is sure however, the time is now to begin helping her process and unpack those feelings.

          • ccchanel41 says:

            Yes, and I am trying to not keep commenting but when I read that I was crushed. I have had a hard time interacting with my own friends on social media with this.
            I have many of my own stories of which I could tell and why this affects me, but it is not about me. I do love slam poetry and had heard Javon before and that poem many times and it is so powerful.
            When I read about your niece, I was crushed. My son just had a baby who is biracial..and all I can see throughout all of this is her face. It is a truly horrible time, but I do not think it has changed, only the escalation of the allowance of militarization of police. Which only puts black people in more danger. But I do love your site, and how you put things together and process them and I will be reading and supporting.

            • I’ve been having a hard time on social media too, and even though I blog, I’m reminded that face to face dialogue is best when processing racism and police brutality. Some people have been supportive, while others have been very dismissive. It can be really difficult to communicate electronically, but I’ve been seeking, and finding support where I can.

              I was floored when I heard that my niece had said that, not because her reasons for being fearful were irrational or unwarranted (because they aren’t in this society), but because I was in denial and hoped she’d have a few more years of coloring, watching cartoons, playing, etc without having to have those interactions. It brought back into the forefront the reality of how necessary it is for black people to have survival oriented conversations with their children at early ages, because of institutional racism.

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