As mothers, we do our best to protect our children from whatever may cause them harm. This could be protection from other children, harsh climates, stray vehicles, predators, sickness, and any of the many dangers that they could encounter on a daily basis.
As a Black mother, unfortunately one of those things that I feel I am required to protect my children from is the negative space created from the historical relationship between the police and the Black community.
I think back to when I delivered my second child and how excited we were. We had chosen not to find out the gender until birth and to my surprise, it was a boy.
As I held my son River, I was overcome with a number of emotions, however I could not shake the feeling of concern that I had for the life that was in front of him.
For some reason I felt like I could protect my daughter Phoenix from the world, but it was different with my first son. I immediately began worrying about how we would have to work extra hard to raise him right. To raise him with manners and respect. To teach him discernment and knowing where to go and which friends to hang with.
Not because these things would set him up for success, but to avoid an encounter with an officer that could lead to him losing his life all due to a “misunderstanding” or “rush to judgement”.
While the Black Lives Matter movement was certainly polarizing for a number of reasons, I feel that at the heart of that movement was an undeniably truth – the lives of our Black children have value.
I had instantly thought of all the mamas who had lost their children to gun violence, whether from a cop or just a random person. It seemed almost routine to read headline after headline of questionable interactions that resulted in a loss of life due to excessive or lethal force.
That routine left me feeling numb yet angry about how the characterization of those who were killed, frequently focused on the fear born from appearance or physical presence.
Angry that simply being black seems to be a valid basis for being “scary”, “intimidating”, or “threatening”.
Hopeful that at some point we win the fight for an evolved society where Black lives are free from systemic dehumanization and devaluation. It is this hope that I as a black mother will protect at all cost.
With February being a celebration of Black History, I feel empowered to provide protection to my children by teaching them all of the ways that their ancestors have created value in this country.
To not only highlight the contributions of the past but to reinforce to all three of my children that they have a legacy to build and leave behind for the next generation.
To affirm that their lives, their Black Lives, do matter.
Photography: Amy McLaughlin Photography
Amy is the Baylor trophy wife to Dan and mommy to their 4 kids: Norah, Beckett, Rory and Eden. After moving cities every 2 years for 10 years, Amy’s family settled in Austin in 2015. She started Amy McLaughlin Photography with a passion for documenting the beauty of real life and stories that matter for families and non-profits. Her photography style is intentional and meaningful. She also part-time homeschools her kids and volunteers with a local organization that seeks to help fill the gap in parental services for families whose kids are in state custody. She enjoys small-group gatherings, espresso, good books, and yoga. And she is not one to turn down dessert.