George Floyd’s call to his mother should be a call to ALL moms right now. We need your voice with us now more than ever to make a better future for our children.
Oh, the joy of teenage years. One of our first mother-son “battles” was when my 14 year-old son, Austen, wanted to wear his durag on his head everywhere that summer. It agitated me to my core! I didn’t want him to be perceived in a negative way – as a thug or trouble-maker. He was the exact opposite – a hard-working, self-motivated young man who got mostly As in school and loved track and video games. I fussed adamantly about that durag, and Austen, as teenagers always do, felt that I was overreacting.
Since Austen was a toddler, I would hold his hand in mine. This let me know that he was still my baby boy. But suddenly, my baby boy’s hands were no longer smaller than mine… He was growing up and becoming a man. It was time for “the talk” when African American parents have the gut-wrenching conversation that we all must have with our children, especially our African American boys, about how to stay alive if, or when, approached by police.
These last several weeks, I’m sadly reminded of why I was so adamant about how my son was perceived in his durag and how critical “the talk” is to keeping my soon-to-be-driving 15 year-old back home safely each day. My heart breaks into a million pieces as I watch the video of George Floyd, a 46 year-old man, crying out for his mother as he pleaded for his life! What mom can watch this video and not feel anguish and heartbreak?
I’m asking ALL moms to act in solidarity against the killing of George Floyd, the dozens of other African American men (and women) that we’ve witnessed on video being killed at the hands of the police, and the likely hundreds of similar incidents that have not been recorded. I’m asking ALL moms, no matter your ethnic background, religion, or upbringing, to open your hearts and your mouths to speak out! Moms, please have those courageous conversations with your family and circle of friends to help them understand that young men that look like my son are not a threat. Moms, please talk with your African American friends, neighbors, and colleagues about their experiences with bias and acknowledge that white privilege is real. Moms, please sit your children down and have the hard conversations about what’s going on in our country and teach them empathy.
Human beings are imperfect. There is no blame in the bias that we all have in our hearts. There is no shame in not knowing exactly what to say or do. But, as a community of mothers, we can – and must – do better for our children. As moms, we inherently nurture, protect, and teach our children how to love and value themselves and others. If this violence continues against anyone’s child, and we act as if it’s not our concern, we have failed our children and future generations to come!
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis
Leslie Young has over twenty years (25) of experience working for, and on behalf of, the small, minority, and women-owned business community in the areas of economic inclusion, supplier diversity, and business development. Leslie holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Xavier University and a Bachelors Degree in Marketing from Ohio University. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Leslie is married and has two (2) children, Austen who is 15 and Loren who is 19.