As a mom to a neurodiverse black family, I have far more to worry about than IEP meetings. I have to worry about life or death. I don’t want my babies to become just another hashtag.

Just another hashtag

“Can’t sleep. Need to. But too disturbed. Have read the articles. Have not watched the video – can’t handle it right now. And won’t share it. Just shaken. If there had been no video we all know exactly how this would have went down.

This was cold-blooded and deliberate murder along with a fraudulent cover up attempt. Period.

My oldest son is now 5’5. And black. Still growing. Voice is starting to change. Has delays in processing and responding, especially when he feels “on the spot.” That could be misunderstood as defiance. Insubordination. A threat.

He likes cops. Used to want to be one. Sweetest kid alive. I wish I could make him small again until the world begins to make sense. He is starting to look too much like a black man and not enough like a black boy.

I am numb. Not able to be mad, or sad, or anything. This keeps happening. Too many times. Too many names. Too many bodies.

God help us all.”

I wrote the words above after learning of yet another murder of a black person by a police officer. Which one? you ask. Does it matter? There are so many. Too many. And there will probably be more. The hurt is the same. The outrage is the same. The fear is the same. The heartbreaking truth is the same.

The truth that I cannot protect my children. I cannot.

People who know my kids generally accept and love them. This includes teachers, acquaintances, family, friends, colleagues, church members, etc. These people, who range from black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Native, bi/multiracial, etc., understand how my kids are. They give them the benefit of the doubt when they’re not at their best and they encourage and rejoice with them when they are. These people don’t take the children’s atypical words and/or movements out of context.

They know that my oldest son, though “big” and black, is the same teen that lets spiders out of the house alive and is famous for his piggyback rides. They know that my second oldest son (the same age Tamir Rice was), who is also getting taller and bigger as he approaches adolescence, is the same kid that will willingly play Barbies with his little sister when she doesn’t have anyone else to play with. They know that all of my daughters’ natural resting face might appear stern or serious, but that in reality they are kind, compassionate, fun-loving girls. They know that my youngest might scream or hit when he is dysregulated, but that he means no harm and is a caring, huggable soul with a silly sense of humor.

But what will strangers think? What do strangers see? What will authority figures, including police, see? A threat? Noncompliance? Inherent violence? A thug?

I don’t know what they will see. And I don’t know what they will do. And that scares me.

It is no coincidence that a lot of the individuals who have lost their lives have been not only black, but also disabled in some way, typically neurdivergent.

Some of these names you know. Several you don’t. They include:

Freddie Gray. Tamir Rice. Ezell Ford. Tanesha Anderson. Tony Robinson. Dontre Hamilton. Jason Harrison. Kaldrick Donald. Anthony Hill. David Felix.

Who will be next?

As a mom to a neurodiverse black family, I have far more to worry about than IEP meetings. I have to worry about life or death.

I don’t want my babies to become just another hashtag.

2 replies
  1. Iris Gray
    Iris Gray says:

    I wish I could reach out and hug you and your children. I wish I had some perfect words of wisdom to share with you that would make everything better. It’s so horrible to think that the people who are supposed to protect us and our children are the same ones who are killing children.

    Reply
    • Jordan Read
      Jordan Read says:

      I am in the transition of preparing to go off and get some education to become an advocate for those with disabilities. I have done tones of research in this area and have had many friends with different disabilities over the years. I also have a website and group on facebook called “Advocates for the Disabled and Elderly in Canada” where I share resources I have found and projects I am doing that others can be involved in. One of the resources I found and thought you might like based on your article you wrote is https://www.kidpower.org/ . Thank you for sharing these words. You are apart of the many who help create better disability awareness for people and professionals across this country.

      Reply

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