The Perils of Black Motherhood and Police Violence
Posted by Taylor Crumpton
September 29, 2016
“We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this,”
“We shouldn’t have to protest because you all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and have rights.”
“Our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t even see them anymore,”
“It’s a shame that we have to go to the graveyard and bury them. And we have tears, and we shouldn’t have tears.”
Zianna Oliphant, a young girl from Charlotte, NC spoke at a city council to bring awareness to the injustices black children are facing due to state-sanctioned violence against black bodies. Zianna is seven years old, and is already well aware of the inequalities she, and her friends, will face. When I see young black girls like Zianna, I feel a bittersweetness. I’m proud of her for articulating the issues affecting her and the black community, but I’m sad that, at seven years old, she knows that she will never be granted the full rights and protection of the law, because it was not made with her community in mind.
I see Zianna and think what kind of mother would I be to bring a child into a world like this.
A world where black people are being murdered by law enforcement officers who receive no penalty for it. A world where black women are hypersexualized and viewed as animalistic. A world where a black child cannot even enjoy being a kid because they are subjected to more suspensions and punishment from teachers, feeding into the school to prison pipeline. A world where my child is statistically more likely to be zoned into an underperforming school district with minimal funding due to the color of her skin. A world where my child can’t play with a toy at the playground because they’ll get shot. Who wants to raise their child in a world like that?
When I look at the injustices towards black people that are embedded into our society, I think about the black women who bore their children into slavery. I think about how they gave birth in shackles to children in shackles. How the world took control over their bodies and sold their children without their consent. How those mothers must have become numb to the cries and sobs of their children being taken away.
I cry for the mothers who will never see their children again.
I cry for the mothers who witnessed their child’s murder.
I cry for my unborn child who will be born into a world that sees them with a target on their back.
I cry because we have to do better, if not for us, then for the children who will inherit this world from us.
We cannot allow children like Zianna to be content with a narrative that enforces the criminalization of black bodies, and that regards state violence against them as normal. We cannot allow children to get used to seeing hashtags of black bodies. We cannot allow children to be accustomed to modern day lynchings!
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
– Assata Shakur
Image via Wikimedia Commons