June 09, 2020
An outline of the bigger picture.
Editorial | By: Kennith Everett, On Demand Editor at Cox
“Do you remember how this works?,” my mother asked, as she sat across from a 15 year old me.
“Mom, I get it, I get it! What’s the point of all of this?,” I yelled back at her with all of my teenage angst.
“The POINT is that you’re going to be driving now. In our predominantly white neighborhood. With a car that may be a little too nice for a young black boy to be driving…and,” she stutters slightly before she continues. “There are going to situations that you have to be prepared for if you are going to make it home to me!”
This conversation is a conversation that many black moms have with their children, some sooner than later, but the premise is often the same. Because of the color of your skin you have to be cautious. I remember this conversation meaning so much to my mom because both her and my father were top-level POC officers in the NYPD in the late 80s, early 90s. The son of a detective and a sergeant and the grandson of a lieutenant.
My mother was so fearful for my life because she had something that many people lack, a perspective that’s layered in duality. She was apart of the same system she was trying to protect me from.
“Wind down all of your windows, Hands on the steering wheel, Maintain eye contact at all times, Smile but do not make light of the situation, Do as he says at all times and remember to tell them who your parents are,” my mom instructed me.
My mom was so protective of me. She is what some would call a hover mom, always occupying my time with extracurriculars and sports. “Idle hands are the devil’s playground, Keni,” she would say. This was a mantra of sorts for her. This is a saying that stuck with me throughout my entire life because for her, it wasn’t just a saying, it was a goal to make sure I had no time to make mistakes. To her, a mistake for young black boys means they, often times, don’t make it to 25. It means that her three black boys may never come home again because they have fallen victim to a system that doesn’t want to see them win.
I champion her and revere her efforts with all my might because the struggle of raising black children is not an easy one. It’s an endless existence of wondering if today will be the day that her son, who would create living room concerts and had an knack for bringing home injured wild animals to care for and only wanted to see the best in others despite how they treated him, if her beautiful boy would come home.
What is happening in this country isn’t new to moms and dads who look like my parents. It’s a battle that they have been fighting against for generations. It’s often a silent battle for working black professionals who just feel lucky to have a seat at the table and are fearful that if they address how they feel or point fingers at maltreatment, they may never be granted with an opportunity again.
I can’t look out into the crowd and see a face that looks like mine from my fortress on this hill called privilege. My blackness claims no lives and poses no danger but to many faces that don’t look like mine, I personify what they have been taught to fear. I tend to the wounds of my pride when every few years we fight a fight for change and equality just to end back at the same spot. I am dizzied by the struggle to keep up with these agendas and illicit paradigms. My nausea isn’t something that will be cured with a pill, when the cause is my environment. I wish there was a pill that rid our society of the plague that is racism. I don’t have all of the solutions nor all of the answers but I do know that we can start with listening to each other.
I am afraid.
I am scared for my brothers and sisters who have not reached 25 yet.
I can’t dismantle a system I didn’t create. I can’t speak to ears that won’t listen. I can only continue to be the best me possible and encourage my friends that don’t look like me to share the conversations we have with others. Just know that when you are empathizing with the plight of black America, remember that 365 days out the year I live with my skin. Though I have learned to love it and accept it, there are still those don’t. My fight is a fight of survival. Being an ally means understanding that this is a reality for many of your friends and colleagues and using your voice to make the difference. If you don’t see race then you can’t see racism.
Walk through this life and from time to time change the lens to shift your perspective. Have empathy that there are things you never have to think about. Have empathy for the conversations you may never have to have with your children. Have empathy and develop perspective that may challenge how you’ve viewed the place we all call home.
“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eye and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”-Robert F. Kennedy
Racism still pervades our society but at Cox, we believe equal rights are the foundation of a free and just society. We stand in solidarity with the peaceful protestors. We will advocate and fight for those voices who need to be heard and against ideals that violate our values. Click here to read more about our commitment.