Friday, November 30, 2018

Good Intentions

Place: ninth place in Creative Writing

Good Intentions

It started out with good intentions.  My brown child had been having panic attacks about leaving our apartment and being ‘’shot by a white cop.’’ He refused to go to school for more days than I could remember. Following trusted advice, I contacted a local police department and asked them if they would be willing to have a white and non-white police officer meet with my eleven year old son.  My hope was that they would show him that police officers were the good guys, not violent racists as we had been seeing and hearing about every day in the media. 

We were met by the chief of the department- a white-haired, white-skinned man who welcomed us with open arms.  He took us up to his office, gave us his personalized baseball card, a bunch of police coloring books, and deputized my little boy as an honorary police officer, badge and all.  He introduced us to several officers and administrators- all white.  He asked them to take us to various areas of the police station, introduce us to the various officers and detectives- all white. 

But still, it seemed to be working.  My young man of color was feeling less and less anxious, even starting to smile and speak with the various individuals who were being so kind to and gentle with him.  They told us about the neighborhood program they did with all of the fifth grade classes in the local school district, and that they were planning on being in my son’s classroom one day this week. 

Convinced all was well, that my son was going to find a way to go about his daily life again, without the terror of being shot by a white police officer that had plagued him for weeks on end, we walked out with an officer who had made an especially close bond with my child.  He showed us his police car, even turned on the blinking lights for him, showed him the laptop that was built into his dashboard, and let him have a peak inside the back of the car, where he kept the ‘’bad guys.’’

And as we walked through the chilly air to our car, the officer told me more about the fifth grade class neighborhood program, and how it had gotten its beginnings.  Apparently there had been a certain class of fifth graders that had already been giving them trouble.  The department wanted to go in, make their presence known, and begin to establish a positive relationship with these children. 

I thought the events in Ferguson, the loss of Michael Brown, the decision of the Grand Jury, the loss of Eric Garner, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice- the same age as my little boy- I thought they had opened my eyes.  Holding my small brown son tightly while he cried hysterically in fear of police men and other white men in his life- I thought these experiences had truly made me see the depth of the institutionalized racism still alive and rampant in our country today.

And then this kind police officer who had so sweetly calmed the fears of my child, he told me the name of the elementary school where the program had started. When the school’s name didn’t register with me, he clarified… ‘’You know- the one where all the black kids go.’’  My little boy looked at me with startled, pained eyes, and tears started once again to quietly fall down my cheeks.