Thursday 4 June 2020

A world where your child is your protector. Reflections on #BlackLivesMatter

©MIA COLEMAN, the Atlantic

It is half a century ago, a six year old boy, holding the hand of a young woman, my mother,  I was walking towards my maternal grandfather's village in Pakistan. Journey used to be long and tedious, and I being a six year old city slicker hated these travels to country. I asked my mum why she puts me through this torment - her response was she felt safe walking with a "young man" - a "mother" is safe on these roads, when a "woman" is not. Even at that age it hit me hard. I was a "man" protecting a "woman" in a dangerous world - journey to stereotypical male chauvinism started early, one would say.

Over the weekend I read a social media post from an African American man living in a relatively affluent suburban community in USA. He reflected that he goes out for his daily walks holding the hand of his young daughter. Because walking with his young girl he feels safe, because he is a parent, not a "threatening" black man who can be reported on to 911, or liable to be shot by a neighbourhood watch.

The helplessness of the account made the grown up man in me cry. Fifty years on, that woman and this man are still having to hold the hand of a child to feel safe. 

And then I saw the police in Seattle, Wahsington spraying the faces of five year old with pepper spray.