In wake of Ferguson, Solomon Jones worries about his son
Fears the next Darren Wilson will see his honor roll student as a "demon."
DARREN WILSON'S resignation from the Ferguson, Mo., police department didn't soothe the pain I felt in the wake of the grand jury's decision not to indict him in the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
For months, my emotional well had been filled to overflowing as I watched the shooting become a flashpoint for protests.
I'd recoiled in horror at the militaristic response of police. I'd sighed in resignation at the cruel online responses. I'd wondered at the state of our nation as the shooting morphed into a referendum on race and class, on right and wrong, on black and white.
But as others used Ferguson as an excuse to argue the finer points of civil rights and excessive force, I viewed Ferguson through a much more personal lens, because I am the father of a black son.
I am the man who spoke to my son when he was in my wife's womb, and told him of the man I wanted him to become. I am the man who wrote to him of my own mistakes and faults before he was old enough to understand them. I am the man who picked him up when he fell, and hugged him when he cried, and prayed that he would live a life that mattered.
I am the man who loves him more than he knows, because I am his father.
I have watched him grow into a generous and loving boy who protects his friends heroically, and loves his family fiercely, and is inquisitive about the world around him.
I am proud of who he is at this point, but my son is far from a completed work. He is, after all, just a 10-year-old boy - one who is striving to develop his gifts, and learning to overcome his weaknesses.
I watch him try to shirk responsibility, and I correct him. I watch him put play before work and redirect him. I watch him put others before himself and I am afraid for him. Not because his kindness is a flaw to be corrected, but because the kindness he so naturally exudes won't always be seen by others.
There will be those who will be too preoccupied with his brown skin to see anything beneath it. In fact, there will be those who will see no value in him at all.
Because black men are 21 times more likely than their white counterparts to be shot by police, according to the news organization ProPublica, I am afraid that the next Darren Wilson could fail to see my son as an honor-roll student, as a budding scientist or as a human being.
I am afraid that the next Darren Wilson could look at my son and see a demon. A demon, after all, is what Wilson told the grand jury he saw when he looked in Brown's eyes.
It seems like a small thing - a slip of the tongue, perhaps - but it speaks to a min-set that views black boys as threats to be eliminated - as monsters to be feared.
As a father, that mind-set gives me pause. It tells me that the baby boy I cradled in my arms is in danger, not because of who he is, but because of whom others will wrongly perceive him to be.
We shouldn't tolerate a society in which those who are charged with protecting us are rarely charged for killing us. We shouldn't support a mind-set that allows our children to be targeted. We shouldn't stand by and watch unarmed citizens gunned down by men with badges.
My son not only carries my name and my dreams. He carries hopes and aspirations of his own. I shouldn't have to fear those aspirations dying at the end of a police officer's gun. No parent should.
That's why all of us must stand up and say "No more." It's the least we can do for our children.