On June 5, 2020 my 16 year old son Jamiel woke up in the morning eager (I say this with sarcasm) to start the day. He came downstairs, greeted us all, prepared his daily protein shake and went on to get ready for what is his normal daily routine. He put on his workout clothes and his weighted bookbags, kissed me and said “Ma, I’ll be right back!” Out of my eyesight, I assume my son put his earbuds in and started the four block walk to the track, he does this daily, sometimes twice a day. I assume that in the neighborhood we live in he passed some of the same people he sees everyday including the home of a police officer who lives across the street from the track. I assume that once at the track Jamiel placed the gear he wasn’t using to the side and began the ritual of his workout, which usually last two hours. Once complete he made his way to the convenient store, as his cool down, to pick up a gatorade before heading home. My son entered our home that afternoon and I was able to wrap my arms around him and welcome him.
Above you see an example of a young man living his life. On August 24, 2019 another young man was living his life. He was walking home from a convenient store, wearing his gear that he needed. I assume this wasn’t the first time this young man made this trek and I’m almost certain people in the neighborhood had seen him before. Even in the dark of night there is a certain stance about a person that we know exactly who it is. This young man, Elijah McClain I am sure had a stance about him. People knew who he was. He had a gentle spirit, a loving spirit, a joy that allowed him to connect with people on levels that were comfortable for him. I assume on his walk home he had a little song in his heart eager to return to the open arms of his family. But Elijah would not get that opportunity. That night officers stopped what they claim was a suspicious individual. They engaged with him and ultimately caused his untimely demise. Elijah like my son Jamiel is an introvert, which for us in our home means Jamiel keeps to himself and he’ll interact as he desires to do so. He doesn’t like to be involved in drama and very rarely will allow himself to be the center of attention. I can only imagine as Elijah made the officers aware of his own introvert needs, he did not want to be the center of their attention. He did not want to engage. He simply wanted to go home.
As I read Elijah’s story and look into the eyes of my son my heart hurts. What is suspicious about Jamiel, what causes others to view Jamiel as a threat, why can’t he just come home?! I count it all joy every time my son returns home because I know there is another mother out there who has lost that vision, that possibility. When I say Black Lives Matter, I am not speaking of a hashtag or an organization. I am speaking of the black life of my son Jamiel. His life matters to me. As a community we cannot rest until Black Lives Matter to us all!
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