Maryann James-Daley Wonders How To Raise her Black Son in America


This week, I cried on the Metro.

Hours before, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, I watched part of Diamond Reynolds’ live video, watched as she calmly talked to the camera and the Falcon Heights, Minn., police officer, while her boyfriend, Philando Castile, bled and lost consciousness in the seat next to her.

But the next morning, as I sat down on the train for my morning commute, I decided to re-watch her video.

I watched Diamond Reynolds get handcuffed, ask for her daughter, and then heard a small voice tell police, “I want to get my mommy’s purse.” I started to cry.

I watched as Reynolds sat, handcuffed, next to her little girl in the back seat of a police car. I watched as her 4-year-old daughter said, “It’s OK, Mommy. It’s OK, I’m right here with you.”

I couldn’t help but imagine me and my little boy in the same situation. So I cried some more, on public transit in Washington, in front of a bunch of strangers.

And I made a friend.

Part embarrassed, part aching for a friendly face, a person who could share in my grief and disbelief, I looked over to the woman next to me. She was brown-skinned with close-cropped graying hair, smartly dressed. “Did you see the video about the shooting in Minnesota?” I asked, wiping tears from my face.

She said she had read a bit about it before she left that morning. And we talked.

We talked about Alston Sterling and Philando Castile. About the inequality of our justice system. The countless black people sentenced to life in prison under wrong-headed laws while a promising white college student caught in the act of sexually assaulting a woman gets a months-long sentence — and the chance to still live his life. About laws that keep our people enslaved, whether within penitentiaries’ walls or on the streets, unable to get a job or even vote because they’re now marked as convicts.

We talked about Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow. I’d read it; she’d bought a copy and had been meaning to read it.

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Source: USA Today | Maryann James-Daley