Fetal Heartbeats, Lack of Gun Control, and Police Chokeholds: Conservative Policies Are Causing This Mother Constant Anxiety
While many of the day’s events do not seem to have anything in common, when those dots are connected, they form conservative policy patterns that cause mothers -all mothers — unrelenting anxiety. Also, I do not own the rights to the photos here and am not seeking profit from them. As a matter of fact, I am crying and typing and trying very hard to finish this post. If I stop mid-sentence, you will find out why, reader.
2012 was the year when Conservative policies left the pages of legislative books, leaped off the television screen, clawed their way into my home, somehow slithered into my brain and kept me sleepless for days on end. During that year, I realized that I am the sister of Black men, wife to a six-foot-plus-gentle-giant, mother to a black son, niece to a plethora of Black uncles, cousin to Black men who call me almost daily, and friend and colleague to Black men in the academy. And all of them could be taken away from me in the blink of an eye and there would be no justice for the men I love, because Conservative policies make it so. I was outraged with nowhere to place my anger.
February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was gunned down by an extra-legal vigilante who used a mechanism of the law to escape punishment. The name of his defense was “Stand Your Ground.” The jury found him not guilty. As a mother of a young, Black boy, I was so angry and did not know where to put it. I am also the only girl in a family with three (now two, unfortunately) pretty sizable brothers. What if somebody decided to stand their ground with one of my brothers? What could we do? And my husband is well over six feet tall. What would happen to him if he were on a bike ride and some woman decided to stand her ground with him?
December 14, 2012 was one of the worst days of my life. When I first woke that morning, I was happy for a minute. I’d just put the finishing touches on my dissertation and completed a dream. I got my coffee, poured an unhealthy amount of cream and sugar in it, woke my son, plopped down, and turned on the television. When the caffeine began to course through my blood stream and wake my brain, and I could comprehend the words coming from the newscaster and those running around and around on the scream, the tears seemed to explode from my eyes. The next thing I remember is looking down at my own little boy, who was tugging on my night gown and asking, “Momma, why are you crying?” These were babies at a school. Who died. Over twenty babies. Dead at the hands of a gunman who had no business with such easy access to high-powered firearms.
2012 began with a senseless tragedy that went unpunished due to loose Conservative policies. 2012 ended with an even more senseless and gruesome tragedy that could have been avoided had it not been for Conservative policies.
November 22, 2014 a 12-year-old Black child, Tamir Rice, was shot and killed by a cop who said that he looked like a grown man. When they flashed pictures of this pre-pubescent child on the screen, I shook my head and cried saying there is just no way that smooth-faced baby could have been mistaken for a man. Look at Tamir Rice below. Honestly, look at him. He was a baby with a bb gun. Who saw him as a threat? Who decided to neutralize this “threat” with deadly force?
Since 2012, we have witnessed one murder after the other of innocent Black men and boys by the police. While some folk cry for more police training or even defunding of the police department, I say we should look farther back into Conservative policies of the Reagan era when our police departments were given military grade weapons with absolutely none of the training of the military police. It seems that enemy combatants have more rights than American civilians and peaceful protesters right now. “The War on Drugs” in theory has become “The War on Black Men” in practice.
July 13, 2020, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in America’s history. According to Lee’s bill, the fetus must have a heartbeat.
Between Sandy Hook and Tennessee, Eric Garner and George Floyd were choked to death by policemen. They both told the police that they could not breathe. George Floyd died calling for his mother. He was a 47-year-old man. I was OUTRAGED once again.
Gun control has not been passed since Sandy Hook. There has been no ban put on police chokeholds. And people are steadily pushing more and more restrictive anti-abortion bills. On the surface, these things do not seem connected. But look a little deeper, and they are, especially in the time of a pandemic. Conservative policies value Black male lives more in utero than at any other point in their lives. So, let me disentangle this: the anti-abortionists all but force women to have children. Gun rights advocates make it easy for people who should not have guns to have free and easy access to them. If I send my child to school, there’s no guarantee that my child would come home from school that day. Some maniac, on any given Wednesday, could walk into my child’s preschool class and take him from me with a high powered rifle. If my child makes it through his elementary years and becomes a teenager and decides to go for a casual stroll through the neighborhood with a group of his teenage friends, one of my neighbors could read him as a threat and a vigilante could take him from me and go unpunished using “Stand Your Ground” as a defense. If a vigilante doesn’t take my son from me, a cop could choke him to death and my son could die on the streets crying for his mother, wanting to go back to the last place he felt safe: my uterus where I did the breathing for him.
That’s why I wake up crying in my sleep some nights.
This post has taken me all day to finish. If there are typos, forgive them. I have tried my best.