By Pamela Wood-Garcia
As Moms of Black boys and men, we all know that our sons experience a plethora of injustices. The greatest of these injustices is untimely, unwarranted deaths at the hands of law enforcement. These incidents have taken place for hundreds of years with little to no accountability. In the last several years, there has been a heightened awareness of these incidents because social media has served as a periscope to the black community, giving us much clearer insight as to how the judicial system allows police officers literally to get away with murder. By now, we all have witnessed the cold-blooded killing of Black men and boys caught on the camera phones of bystanders and uploaded to social media. Even a few murders have been streamed live on Facebook while the world watched.
Question: Are we protecting them “loud” enough?
During President Barack Obama’s administration, there was a constant influx of information about these unjustified murders circulating on social and mainstream media. The information was so moving that it served as the catalyst for Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. (MOBB United) to be formed. But suddenly, it seems as if the attention to our sons’ plight is being overshadowed by other headlines. News stories abound now of attacks on immigrants and the torching of synagogues and mosques. What? No word on the brother who was murdered by police last month in Tennessee? He streamed his own murder live on Facebook! No word on the three 15-year-old Black boys murdered in Texas, Connecticut, and California by cops? The media gave a vague overview of each incident and chucked them. It is as if we are expected to move about like the murders of Black boys and men have magically disappeared. Yeah, right…not in America and certainly not during the current presidential administration.
President Donald Trump’s campaign promised to build a ”tremendous wall” to keep Mexican immigrants -- to whom he referred as rapists, drug dealers, and thieves -- out of the United States. He also swore to place a ban on Muslim refugees to keep them from entering the country so acts of terrorism could not be committed on American soil. He topped off all of his campaign promises with anti-semitic remarks and appointees. Since Trump was elected, there has been an increase in hate crimes towards these groups of people. These incidents deserve the ample attention they are getting in the media, but there once was the same kind of media spotlight on law enforcement murdering Black boys and men. Where did that push go? The world still needs to be informed when an innocent man is demonized and executed for his Blackness. We, as a people, still need to be seen and heard on these issues. This blog is not being written to downplay the social injustices that happen in non-Black communities but to let people know that the killings of Black boys and men are still taking place! MOBB United is stepping up -- more than 175k moms strong -- to carry out this mission.
MOBB United was formed as a light in the midst of the darkness surrounding the slayings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling. They both were killed by law enforcement within 24 hours of one another during what should have been routine stops. Neither man was brandishing a weapon nor using any kind of derogatory or threatening language. Neither man resisted any of the police officers’ commands. Philando’s four-year-old daughter and girlfriend witnessed his murder in a car while Alton’s community watched his murder in front of a store. The harshest reality of the deaths of these men is that there may never be any justice served for either of them. Philando’s killer was acquitted of all charges on June 16, 2017. Only God knows what will happen in Alton’s case. Most likely, more of the same blatant injustice.The cases would have been tried with convictions if the tables were turned. If a cop was shot in his chest at point blank range by two Black men holding him down on the ground, the two Black men would be dead or in prison awaiting execution. If a Black man had shot a white cop through a car window in front of his four-year-old child and girlfriend, he would have been hunted down and killed or put in prison for the rest of his life. No one would be considering their actions self-defense.
Alton and Philando were loving human beings executed like rabid animals. Alton’s execution was caught on camera and uploaded to the internet while Philando’s was streamed live by his girlfriend. The next day, MOBB United’s founder, Depelsha McGruder, started a Facebook group called Moms Of Black Boys. Her first post read, “I am starting this group because I don’t know what else to do.” She added 30 other moms of Black boys. Those moms could relate to her raw emotion and they added other moms with Black sons whom they knew would relate to Depelsha’s post. Out of this, MOBB United was formed. Since its founding, there have been at least 20 more Black men and boys killed during interactions with police officers, but the media has largely turned its attention elsewhere, towards the hatred we are seeing directed at other groups. However, there is a profound difference between hate crimes committed by HATE groups and what amounts to hate crimes committed by law enforcement. Police officers have taken an oath to protect and serve every citizen in their jurisdiction. They represent the law, the state. Yet they murder Black men and boys for flinching during routine traffic stops? They murder people with mental illnesses who are in distress? They murder our sons because they know it is a crime that almost anybody with a gun and a badge can commit without consequence. What can be done to put an end to these senseless crimes? MOBB United is on the right track.
MOBB United’s mission is fundamental to the goal of protecting our sons and eradicating these killings: to provide information and support for moms of Black sons and promote positive images of Black boys and men; to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated and perceived by law enforcement and society. MOBB United stands on five pillars that are to change the perception that the world has of Black men and boys; influence legislative policy; demonstrate collective political, and economic power within the communities that we serve; strategically partner with organizations that can assist MOBB United in carrying out its mission; and to promote self-care for moms of boys and their families. This begins and ends at home with moms.
As moms, it is our responsibility to make sure our sons understand how the world sees them. Perception is nine-tenths of a person’s reality. Research shows that 10-year-old Black boys are perceived as a threat to the rest of society and many people fear them. Our sons need to be made aware of this. This is not to stifle who they are but to raise their awareness as we parent to create good character, healthy self-images, and healthy interactions. Knowledge of self is imperative to creating these qualities. This means teaching them that there is greatness in African-American history and culture. This also means teaching them that they are a reflection of that history and culture, and they can achieve anything to which they put their minds. As MOBB United travails to change the perception that the world has of our beautiful sons, MOBB United for Social Change is calling, writing, and meeting with local, state, and federal officials in droves to influence change in legislative policy and to ensure that once change has occurred, it is enforced to the fullest extent of the law. Demonstrating our collective economic and political power, changing perception of our men and boys, and influencing policy and legislation won’t bring back any of our beloved Black men or boys, but it will save lives in the future. It will make a police officer think twice before he or she decides to use lethal force or even racially profile a Black male. It will let moms of Black boys and men all over the world know that somebody is standing in the trenches working, fighting, and praying for them.
MOBB United’s action pays homage to the memory of the fallen. It lets the world know that victims, including Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Mario Woods, Newman Demarco, Alfred Olango, Jason King, Levonia Riggins, Reginald Thomas Jr., Terrance Coleman, George Meyers, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Jayson Negron, Darius Smith, Jordan Edwards, Terence Crutcher, Alfred Olango, as well as so many others like them nationwide and even worldwide, were important human beings whose lives had great value. Their lives and deaths sparked the mother of all movements. MOBB United is here to defend, protect, and advocate for our Black boys and men. We are here to fight; we are here to win; we here for our sons.
Let's protect them LOUDER.