June 12, 2020, marks the 57th anniversary of the killing of my cousin Medgar Evers, who was shot in the back in his driveway by a white supremacist and member of the KKK. It took 31 years to get a conviction for his murder. Some could finally call it justice, but justice is never served when someone you love is murdered.
It was the same hatred in the man who killed Medgar and many others because of their skin color that we saw kill George Floyd on May 25. This time, unlike 57 years ago, it was done in the light of day and captured on camera. It is unimaginable, heartbreaking and disgraceful that what we saw continues to be played out in America. There was no remorse. And yet again, the killer carried the title of police officer, although he does not deserve that title. It should be a bad cop, hater, racist and cold-blooded murderer. His weapons of choice were his knee and hatred.
Yes, so many of us hurt, and we cry. In fact, we cannot stop crying; we are angry and well beyond being sick and tired. We continue to see this type of hatred and unjust killing, time and time again. These incidents are often at the hands of bad cops, but there should be no such thing as a bad cop. And sometimes, others carry out these heinous crimes as well.
I fear daily for the two young Black men that I helped to raise, along with my partner, brothers, nephews, cousins, friends, colleagues, and all those who carry the title “Black man” or “Black boy” in America. You see, their life’s journey and walk in this country is very different from mine and others. Their walk is often one of being harassed, profiled, full of fear, uncertainty, and shock. Being parents, guardians, family members of Black males, our walk is also different; It is one of worry, anxiety, constant prayer, and restless nights. And days when they are out, the crying begins.
We all know racism. I know it well, and I know its effect. I also know what it is like to have racism and hatred as the cause of a loved one’s death. Because of such hatred, I have faced death by murder on many fronts. This is not new, yet it continues year to year and even day to day. Every day, I live in fear for our Black men and boys in this country; known and unknown, because of this wicked, abiding hatred.
I still remember writing a poem in 1994 about being a mother to Black males in America, when my nephew lived with me and wanted to go out one Friday night. The poem was called “A Black Mother’s Cry”:
It’s Friday (Saturday, Sunday, Monday…)
and my son wants to go out and
play (go to the movies, hang out with his friends, get a bite to eat).
Tick tock, Tick tock, I watch the clock and pray to God
Please let my son come back for another day.
Its Friday night and my son wants to go out and play
I watch the clock; I watch the door and sometimes I fall
to the floor and pray and pray, cry and cry
That my son comes back for another day.
A Black Mother’s Cry
Tick tock, tick tock I watch the clock
And pace back and forth on my feet
And in my mind only to watch and pray.
Tick tock, I watch the clock.
The door opens and thank God
my son made it home for another day.
A Black Mother’s Cry
Throughout this time, we will see and feel a host of emotions. The key for us now is what we need do to ensure REAL JUSTICE for George Floyd’s family, change in our country, government, and real sustaining action that truly makes a difference for all. What will we do beyond the marching, beyond the praying, and beyond the crying? What will we do to make our communities safe and our walks in life better?
We all want justice for George Floyd and his family. We all want justice for Breonna Taylor and her family. We all want justice for Ahmaud Arbery and his family. We all want justice for all of those who lost their lives unjustly.
Some people expect many of us to loot and burn down the businesses in our communities. I expect us to take action. We need to decide how and where we spend our money, invest in our businesses, get involved in our communities. We must fight for things such as: criminal justice reform, equal access to quality education and technology and other changes that will make a lasting difference. Not to mention, reforms in voter mobilization and registration. We must get out and vote.
To all the Black men and boys: we hurt, we cry, and we continue to ask “why?” We know being Black ain’t easy in this country, but we also know we must be a part of the solution. Until that time, when we are truly free from racism, discrimination, police brutality, killings and fear for our black men and boys walking the street …
We Hurt, We Cry, and We Continue to Ask, Why?
A Black Mother Still Cries (2020)
I grew up somebody’s child,
Naive and ignorant of the things that waited for me in the wild,
I never understood the importance of my mother’s home,
Until now that I have a child of my own,
He’s naive just like me,
And thinks he’s invincible with not a worry in his heart,
I’ve tried to prepare him as best I can from the start,
But still young people have to live, and learn on their own,
So, every day I sit and pray, that my child makes it home,
Every day when he leaves for school, I pray that I will see him soon,
Anytime he leaves for work, I pray that he will not be hurt,
When I don’t hear from him and feel the fear, I cry a mother’s cry, asking God to bring him here,
On Friday nights when the worry never stops, tick tock I watch the clock, and pray to God,
A ring of the phone will make my heart drop, I might collapse if I hear a knock,
But when I hear that knob turn, my prayers have been answered cause my child has returned,
He has no idea when he sees my eyes, just how much a Black mother cries.
Still a Black Mother Cries.
Sandra J. Evers-Manly is president of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @Sandraeversmanly