So the other day I inconveniently forgot an item I needed for dinner at the grocery. I got all the way home and realized it, there was no way I was going back to that grocery store. So I opted to get the item, at a higher price, at the “convenient store.” As I walked into the store a little boy about 7-8 years old walked in behind me. He looked eager to get inside and purchase his item, he had his money in hand. Me, being a mom, looked to see if he had walked there alone and saw his mom and what appeared to be other siblings sitting in a minivan waiting. I find my item and we both make it to the counter at the same time. Joking with him I asked him what he was buying, I told him I was nosy, lol. Then I saw it, there on the counter, one of those toy packets that cost $1.99 and inside the packet was a toy gun. My heart sank. What disturbed me about the toy gun was that it was black and the little orange piece that’s supposed to make you aware it’s a toy gun was off in the plastic bag somewhere. I asked him why he wanted that, he looked at me strangely. He stated that he collected them, I then asked if maybe he might get a water gun as they are colorful. He was bent on buying this one. As we talked about why I was concerned about his purchase, I mentioned Tamir Rice and did he know who he was, he did. I didn’t go into heavy details as I am not his parent but a concerned mom and everyone has their own parenting style. But he knew enough to know what had happened to Tamir. As we talked the store manager says, well if you’re his mom just tell him he can’t have it. I informed him that I was not his mom, but that the young man reminded me of my own son. Then the manager and the cashier simultaneously said “Why do you care?” My response, why don’t you care?! I told the little boy I would say a prayer for him and asked that he be very careful if he was going to play with the gun outside, he nodded and walked away. I then turned my attention to the store keepers. Why would they continue to sell these items in the wake of the Tamir Rice shooting, was $2.00 really worth a human life?! No answer. Well damn.
I want to make two notes here. One, this is why I am a firm believer in the “Village Raising a Child”. It’s our responsibility as parents in our communities to ensure that each child has at least the opportunity to be better. I know people will say these kids are disrespectful or that these parents be ready to fight if you say something to their child. To that I say this, armor up! We can’t continue with the way things are going and you may need to change your approach. People are so ready as soon as they believe they are being disrespectful to “check them,” try speaking in love, which is a whole different series to touch on (get back to that later). Think about how you are approaching children, some of these kids are hardcore and need the softer side of Sears (soft, lovable, not harmful in anyway) when being corrected or engaged. Everything does not require a hand on the hip and finger pointing. In order to actively change and affect our communities’ self-reflection is a must. And if you encounter some loud talking parent ready to fight, you have another option, DON’T engage. Some are attention seekers and are looking for that moment to prove themselves. Prove them wrong and don’t entertain it. Trust I know that what I am saying is hard, but we have to start somewhere.
Two, as a community it is our right to ensure that the businesses in our communities are promoting a safe environment for our families. We have got to become active again. You cannot purchase items from the store that you know is selling cigarettes and alcohol to underage people. You can take a stand against the club/bar on the corner not following proper security protocol. We all see it and we all are guilty of overlooking it. It’s time people, time to reclaim our communities, time to ensure a future for our children. It doesn’t require a drastic all in one day change, but it does require to actively determine what you can do, within your own power, to help support your home. So what small/big, random/focused act will you perform to start the change in your community today? I just did mine.