Dimming the light in their eyes, for their own good

No one cares about your child the way you do. Some people don’t care about your child. There might even be someone who will kill your child. Someone who chose to see your child as an enemy, warranted or not.

Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old young man is dead because on February 26, 2012,  George Zimmerman chose to see him as an enemy. From all appearances, Trayvon did not choose to be an enemy he was just walking home from the store.  This case out of Sanford, Florida has sparked epic outrage because Trayvon, is African-American, Zimmerman is not and the self-appointed neighborhood watchman, given the benefit of the doubt, was allowed to claim self-defense and is not in custody.

Was Trayvon followed, fought, and shot in the chest because he’s black? Possibly. Probably. Zimmerman called 911 about a “suspicious” person, he hunted Trayvon and… well, as black people, well it feels maddening and unfortunately familiar.

And the story breaks my heart. My husband, parents, family, friends and I are trying to raise our young black boys to men in a society that might label them as an enemy quicker than a friend… or just a person who has yet displayed his role in society.

It sucks.

It is what it is.

OK. OK. OK. Here’s the current reality for all parents. We each know we are living amongst those who would victimize our child for reasons unfathomable. And the heartbreaker comes at having to have that conversation with our beloved.

When does it happen? Sometime after their first diaper change and before you drop him off in their freshman dorm, right? Sometime when you feel it’s time to dim the natural light in their eyes, just a little… When are you supposed to be comfortable with THAT feeling?

Well, that’s a parent’s job. To become comfortable enough with the uncomfortable in the name of preparing our children for the cross they have to bear. A difference that cannot be changed, one that has zero to do with his worth, or his ability to contribute to society; a difference that could make him a victim. It’s not an easy because you know it changes their world.

In the least paranoia-inducing way possible we have explained to our sons the history of black people in America. They know there are those, of all heritages, who do not care about the “content of their character” and will treat them accordingly. We do our best to remind them to be aware of their surroundings and to trust their inner voice to protect them, to help them avoid situations that could result in their harm.

And what may seem morbid and/or unrelated, we discuss faith; faith in the heart and goodness of others. Faith in the understanding that death is not what it appears to be. It is not an ending but another beginning in a form that may be unfamiliar but a beginning nonetheless. It can be sad, it can be painful yet it is a transition and a part of their lives that they should not fear or even think about.

No, that worry is for us, their parents.

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  • Bravo. That man should be in jail, it is an outrage that this man followed this unarmed kid and shot him.

  • In reply to kmccarron:

    It is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

  • I am moved by this post, Allison - moved and saddened by its truth. My son, who is adopted, is African-American. What happened to Trayvon sickens me. My son loves to wear hooded sweatshirts all the time, hood up, regardless of the weather. He is 3 years old right now. Some day, I may have to tell him not to walk around like that as he may be targeted for that "suspicious-looking" choice. Dim the light, as you say. How very sad.

    In case you have not seen this, here's a link that alerts one to the same reality that you present:


  • In reply to jiyer:

    It IS sad when we have to share ugly realities with our children. You don't want to scare or scar them but... UGH

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