by Chanel Free
It might sound insane, but the truth is I am afraid. Afraid to raise a brown boy. I had always dreamt of having a son. In fact, I had my entire future mapped out. I would have two boys and then my baby girl, so she would always be well protected by her older brothers. I presume that the man upstairs laughed heartily as I made my own plans for my future not realizing that he called the shots.
Several years later, I am the proud mother of two beautiful little girls. Can you believe that? Two girls! Boy, was I way off track. As we continue to grow our family, I can’t help but feel nervous about raising a son. A black male to be exact. In my work as a school counselor and secondary instructor, I have a center seat to all that goes on with today’s young people. And sadly, both brown males and females are struggling to excel, but statistics and my observations say that black males have it far worse.
Black males can’t walk down the street without being harassed by the cops. We can thank NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for the increase in this with the “Stop and Frisk” initiative, which began in 2003. According to the Huffington Post, more young black men were stopped by the NYPD in 2011 than there are young black men in New York City.
Our young black males are subject to additional scrutiny by the police department in New York City. But, now it seems like the culture in some areas allows armed civilians to shot and kill innocent black unarmed teens wearing hoods (i.e. Trayvon Martin) and hide behind a veil of self defense.
Not only do we have the threat of black boys being called suspicious as they walk through a neighborhood on a bright sunny day with a bag of skittles, but black on black violence plagues cities across the USA. School truancy is an ongoing problem. The high school dropout rate for young black males is staggering.
I wrestle with letting these grim statistics cloud all of the wonderful accomplishments of the many prominent black males in our country’s history. After all, we do have a black President in the White House. Still, I wonder what I can do as a black woman to shield my future brown baby boy and others like him from the harsh realities of America.
I have great concern for my daughters as well, but it seems like the odds are still stacked so high over black young men in my community that it is scary. The numbers indicate that while young black females have their fair share of struggles, they somehow muster up the moxy necessary to make extraordinary strides.
When I first mentioned my fears to my boyfriend, he was a little shocked and put off. Though he didn’t come out and say it, I could tell by his body language. Maybe he thought that I would have more faith in him that he would be able to handle a son—that I wouldn’t be a single mother going at it alone. It’s not that I don’t trust him, but as a mom who wants the best for her kids—I do worry.
He is an excellent father and great partner. Yet, I am always thinking about my role as a mother. As a woman, I know what do to help solve “female” problems (or so I think) helping young girls become independent young women is sort of my specialty. Why? Because I’ve lived it. I understand the emotional and social issues that young women wrestle with as they try to develop their identity and carve out their footprint.
I am at a loss, trying to figure out how to lessen the blow of society’s punches, and raise a young brown boy into a proud black man that is a self sufficient, responsible, educated, and productive member of society. I hope I don’t sound crazy, but the truth is I am afraid to raise a brown boy.
Chanel Free is an energetic bodacious 30 something Brooklyn native; mom of two beautiful girls; professional school counselor, secondary instructor at Seton Hall University, and self-proclaimed B.A.D. C.H.I.C. . She is the go-to-girl for candid, real-talk, no holds barred advice on life, love, and all things bitchy. Recently she has begun sharing her adventures through her blog, Ms Free Unleashed.