Essence Launches #HeIsNotASuspect Campaign – What I Plan to Teach My Son

million-hoody-march-trayvon-martin3This past Saturday marked one week since George Zimmerman walked away a free man for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Like most African Americans that night, I immdiately went numb with disbelief…not because I believed in my heart that he would be found guilty. No, it was because I just really hoped and prayed that our country really wasn’t as bad off as I knew we were. I had hoped (for some funny reason) that because we’d been able to elect a black man into the White House on two occasions, we had come a long way. But this whole case just proved that we haven’t come nearly as far as people would like us to believe.

Like so many others, I was more crushed than outraged. More disappointed than surprised. I didn’t feel like writing anything about it because I couldn’t find any words or insight to share that could possibly come close to the mix of emotions I was feeling. But as the mother of a little black boy who will one day grow up into a young man like Trayvon Martin was, I just had to take a few minutes to collect some thoughts.

On one hand, I wanted to write a similar letter like the one Heather of Diary of a First Time Mom wrote to Trayvon’s mom, because as I looked at my son, I thought about how she would never be able to hold, hug, kiss or talk to him again.

On the other, I thought about all of the things I needed to teach my son that Smart ‘N Sassy mom, Sheree mentioned in her post. I realized there were things I needed to learn from in this case so that I could then teach our children.

I also remembered all of the other “Trayvon’s” that we don’t even get to hear about like Aja mentioned in this post on BMWK, whose parents are left to suffer alone without the support of media, strangers across the world and celebrities alike. Nope, most of the time, we don’t even hear the mention of their name.

And as all of these thoughts were still going on, Janeane of Janeane’s World reminded me that none of this is new. While the emotions were still there, she reminded me that history always has a way of repeating itself and this situation was no different. No, not even the fact that we have a black man as President will change this fact.

So while I couldn’t find the words to explain to my son that his life as a little black boy is meaningless in the eyes of the America we live in, I decided that I could share with him what he is not: He is NOT just a little black boy. He is NOT a threat to society. He is NOT a stereotype. He is NOT a suspect.

Just last week, Essence launched the “He is not a Suspect” campaign. #HeIsNotASuspect is a counter-stereotyping campaign designed to challenge negative images of young African American men. It’s a powerful movement designed to put a stop to the racial profiling of our sons.

Essence is inviting readers to post on Instagram and Facebook photos of themselves and a young Black man they care about—a son, brother, nephew, cousin, neighbor or grandson—with a few words explaining why he’s so much more than a stereotype, using the hashtag #HeIsNotASuspect.  

#HeisNotASuspect Jr and MomsNCharge

Photography by Crystale of Eye-Imagery Studios

My son Jr. makes me so happy and proud to be his mother. He is the most loving little 5 year old anyone can meet. He takes his role as big brother very seriously, and is always protective over his little sisters. He loves to play video games, ride his bike, bake, help with cooking/cleaning, and most recently, learn Karate. He loves musical instruments and is very interested in learning how to play the piano and the drums. He loves to learn new things, and even more, loves to teach his sisters what he learns. He wants to be a dentist when he grows up. #HeIsNotASuspect

While I know this movement is just a very small baby step in this long road we have ahead of us, I’m definitely using this case to really think and pray about how I can make a difference in not just my own little black boy’s life, but in as many across the nation as I possibly can.

Will you be joining Essence to embrace this movement? What has this whole case taught you or sparked in you?

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  • Heather Hopson
    July 22, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Love this! So honored that you shared my link. I don't have a son, but have nephews. I will definitely share your story. They are NOT suspects rather future doctors and lawyers!

  • Janeane Davis
    July 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    I really liked this article!!! You reminded me that we are our children’s first and most influential teachers. If we let our sons know we are pround to be their moms, they will grow up with a shield that protects them and lets them know there is something precious, special and loveable about them. Now I can’t wait for my son to get home from his enrichment program so I can give him a big hug!
    Janeane Davis would like you to check out…Take Action Now To Be Independent – Don’t Let Others Control Your DestinyMy Profile

    • Christine St.Vil
      July 23, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      Thank you so much Janeane for sharing and contributing to this article 🙂 It’s so important to remind our sons of how highly we think of them, and how proud we are of them. It’s such a blessing to be able to hug them and hug them tight, so enjoy it and do it often 🙂

  • Christine St.Vil
    July 23, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    Thank you Heather! I really connected with the letter you wrote. Yes, future doctors and lawyers indeed!

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