‘One day, he will fit the description. How will I protect my autistic son from his skin?’: Special needs mom urges ‘it is not my responsibility to end racism’

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“The world is fighting COVID-19 and black people are fighting to stay alive. Black men in particular are being murdered and threatened for no reason at all, other than for being black.

Black families are having hard necessary conversations with their children, even if they don’t want to or feel as though they’re too young. It’s being forced on us due to the daily news reports. We are literally getting no days off from the trauma.

My son Caleb had a speech evaluation yesterday and he scored below average on the language comprehension section. I already knew this was an issue. Caleb speaks pretty clearly and has the words, but he struggles with the use of language in understanding, comprehending, and engaging in conversation. As the SLP provided me with this information I immediately thought…

How will I protect my son from this world?

His progress has been staggering, but I don’t put expectations on Caleb. He will get therapy, we will continue to work hard. I will never stop advocating for him, BUT he is autistic.

He is a black autistic man in America, and he needs to be protected. He may not always have a speech delay, but he might. I always prepare for ‘the might,’ but I feel stuck on what that looks like when it comes to this.

Within the last month (let’s start there for the sake of time), a young man was lynched on a Georgia street by 3 white men for jogging in their neighborhood, a young woman was gunned down by police in her bed based on false information, another young man who served this country was chased and gunned down by police, George Floyd was murdered by police on camera for writing a bad check, and in Central Park, a black man was bird watching when his day was interrupted by a white woman calling the cops and falsely stating ‘an African American man is threatening me,’ knowing his life could’ve been changed/taken forever.

I am in quite a few autism groups online, and only in the Black Autism Moms group are we having to discuss topics like:

‘How do we prepare our kids for the police?’

‘How do we tell them the police are supposed to keep them safe when we know that’s not what they’ve been doing?’

Leaving your home and returning safely is not necessarily guaranteed if you were born with melanin-rich skin. If you’re reading this and you think this shouldn’t be a concern for someone whose son is only 4 years and 11 months old, you’re right.

Courtesy of Tiffany Hutchinson

It shouldn’t be a concern, but Caleb will always be black and he will become a black man. The history of this country shows us racism continues to be alive and well, some days it even appears to be thriving, so although you are correct in thinking I shouldn’t be concerned, the reality is I need to be.

I need to be concerned, enraged, scared, and frustrated because my son fits the description of the people being hunted and murdered in this country, and if that’s not bad enough, I don’t know how to prepare him.

How will I protect my son from his skin?

I see families ‘preparing’ their children for what’s happening in this country. They are having hard conversations with kids who should just be free to be kids. They are telling their children to do whatever they need to in order to make it home alive, right or wrong, do what they say. Just make it home alive!

Let me be clear, I’m not here writing about the right or wrong message to teach your kids. My point is these conversations are happening, and my reality is that I can’t have those conversations. I don’t know if Caleb will ever understand the conversation. Hell, it’s confusing to me; I don’t understand the conversation.

People will not like you and will fear you because you are black. Police are supposed to protect you, but they may not because you are black. The way you speak and your stimming may make people uncomfortable and fearful, but mostly because you are black.

How will I protect my son from his skin?

I don’t have the answer, I’m not sure I ever will. What I am learning each day is it’s not my responsibility to end racism. That responsibility will fall upon the white people in my life and in this country who claim to love everyone, despite the color of their skin and believe in equality. Your voices are needed. Your actions are necessary.

Please protect my son!”

Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens. — Ella Baker

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tiffany Hutchinson of A Mama Bear and her Cub. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories like this:

‘Because of autism, my daughter doesn’t know her beautiful brown skin is a threat in this world.’: Mom to daughter with autism says ‘I must worry about protecting her’

‘I’m a white man with a white kid. Never once have I had to fear jogging, walking in the park, or shopping at a convenience store.’: Man urges ‘stand up for our black brothers and sisters’

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