I watched as my son plays with his race cars they zip along a multicolored track which does not seem to yield to gravity. He thinks about transportation: cars, trucks, vans and buses everyday and almost every hour of the day. And whenever he can ride a bus he prefers it over a car. I guess you could consider him a baby environmentalist or a transportation enthusiast. But he is three and no such notions have ever occurred to him.
When he is asleep or busy at a day camp and I have time to wonder and think about the world he is will inherit. I think about Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland being taken off in a white van the same type my son often points to and says with glee, “Look mama, a white van.” I think about Freddie entering that police van with his body intact and exiting with his spine detached.
And then I think about Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale Station BART station in Oakland, California. His life snatched on a train platform shot in the back while face down, handcuffed and unarmed by a transit policeman.
And I also think about seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin who was unarmed but nonetheless still fatally shot in Miami Garden, Florida by a fake toy cop idiot volunteer. Perhaps he would have fared better to be in a car, not walking in his own neighborhood.
Of course the issue isn’t transportation vs walking, the issue is race. And by all accounts my boy who happens to be “light hued” is still a black boy and will be seen as black by those with guns, authority and lots of fear.
And I weep for all the mamas, mothers, and mommies who have lost their sons to gun violence no matter where their brown and black sons stood, sat or laid at the time their lives were taken. And I am also struck with sheer sadness of the duality of transportation and race that presently my son can not fathom.
Though I am thinking everyday, how can I help change gun violence? Race relations? In this present moment I don’t have answers only exploration and my ability to think things through. Still last night as I tickled my son he giggles down to the floor and when he giggles I glimpsed a future where boys like him grew up to laugh as old black men.