Every day it seems like I get a police report saying that a young, black man has been gunned down and killed in New Orleans. It’s like we’re at war here and for those of us raising a young, black child, it is downright frightening. All these boys killed before they are even men. Think of the fathers they would have been, the mentors to young boys they could have been, the brothers, uncles, and lovers they should have been.
I met a man at the coffee shop the other day and he introduced himself as a journalist. We spoke over coffee and he said he was a child of the 7th Ward and remembered all his life that his mother had said, “Be Careful,” each time he left the house. She said this well after he had grown into a young adult and even when he was already a man. “Be Careful” is the wishes of every mother, especially a mother of a young, black male in this city.
A friend said her mother had also always said “be careful” every time she left the house and she wonders now why could her mother have said, “Have fun!” instead.
I know why, because I feared having a black son living in this city. I feared that one day he would be standing on the wrong corner at the wrong time and because of the color of his skin and his gender he would be a target. I try to keep those thoughts at bay, I try not to have my fears writ large on my son’s yet to arrive future. But “be careful” seems to roll off my tongue even now, even before he has left the house on his own, even now that he looks to anyone like a cute little boy and not some shadowy archetype.