Today I want to share the words of Christi Griffin, a recognized social justice leader in the St. Louis community.
After the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, Dr. Griffin brought several African American mothers together to share their stories and incite of being the parent of black children.
I attended the first event and several others since. The Mother 2 Mother program provides a look at the challenges black families face, that few white people understand. These emotional comments of the mothers on the panel bring both tears and laughter of pain as we white people learn how privileged affects all people in the community.
Here is Dr. Griffins post:
Mother 2 Mother May 1st brought new challenges, emotions and a great deal of insight . The following are my reflections. To the Mothers who signed up for one and have diligently hung in there for nearly 30, you are my sheroes and my sisters. To Traci Blackmon who presented the first story and Carol Daniel who prodded me into moving forward, you're the best. With every drop of water, rocks are hewn.
FOR ONE HOUR
Four Black mothers took the stage and faced an unknown audience. They spoke of "the talk" and bore their souls. They let the pent up pain of oppression spill on the ground like the blood of too many of our sons. And then...
For one hour, some felt misidentified, wrongfully convicted of "crimes" they didn't commit.
They felt their breath restrained, "handcuffs" that were improperly applied and tightened painfully with every attempt to writhe free.
They felt the pain of being punched in the stomach, snatched from their seat and thrown to the ground by those who had control,
They felt kicked and stomped regardless of their innocence.
They felt disrespected, frustrated, and angry.
For one hour,
They were lumped into a group,
summed up, labeled by the acts of others,
stripped of their dignity, denied their right to speak,
imprisoned by those on their left and right.
They were charged, prosecuted, tried and found guilty - by a jury not their peers.
For one hour they sat persecuted and accused.
They felt the sting of what they thought was hate.
They misunderstood the festering pain that exhibited itself as anger
- anger fiercely hurled at the first sign of a perpetrator.
For one hour, they wanted to escape, escape into a carefully crafted world where their privilege means hard work is actually rewarded.
Escape into the generational wealth no matter how meager it may be.
Escape into a world where they can make believe injustice doesn't exist because it doesn't exist for them.
Escape into a life free of accusations,
free of being stopped while driving Black,
free of being stopped while walking Black,
free of being stopped while being -Black.
They escape into a world where they are free of being wrongfully accused,
free of police who kill rather than serve and protect them,
free of police who will shoot and kill their innocent children
because they "feared for their lives".
For one hour, they felt the sting of words. Words.
And after one hour, unlike the silence that often ensues when innocent Black men are shot dead on the street,
when their bodies are left lying on the ground
and grieving Black mothers are told to stand back;
when Black girls are thrown to the ground by grown men emboldened by badges and guns,
when a man is choked to death with large White bodies pressing knees into his back,
when a Black youth is shot for obeying the order to display his license,
when an unarmed college-bound teen is killed for walking in the middle of the street,
then their voices rose up.
They were silent until...
for one hour, someone falsely accused them, made them feel uncomfortable, hurt their feelings, and left them feeling sick.
And then they spoke up, got angry, wanted to know "where are the fathers?" Then they rose to resist, cared about our joy, and wanted to pray -for us.
For one hour. They felt pain and they reacted with anger, Yet, as Black women, Black mothers, Black wives, Black neighbors, Black citizens, Black Catholics, and Protestants and Muslims, the words that gave rise to their pain and anger, is our reality. It is the fear, the disrespect, the frustration, the pain, the injustice, the false accusations, the wrongful convictions, the mass incarcerations, the anger we live, every waking hour of every single day.
And when we express our anger, some label us "angry Black women" and immediately dismiss our pain. We are expected to suffer in silence while privilege allows their silence to rail against our words.
For one hour.
Mother 2 Mother
To Learn More about Dr. Griffin and her important work click here: http://www.theethicsproject.org