Black daughters and genderqueer children need your protection too, not just your sons
I write this plea as the mother of a Black daughter, a mother who knows full well that her daughter’s Black life is under threat, daily.
by Zesiro Maji
This essay discusses Black death and racist state violence against Black children
Timelines and headlines are saturating Black people with images, stories, and video clips of Black Death. It’s a somber, sobering reminder of the grim reality of what it means to be a Black person in America. The unrelenting violence against the Black bodies we have, now shared and uploaded in an instant online, triggers insurmountable anxiety.
There’s a community-wide fear, reverberating, of how our fate, as Black people, might unfold once we leave our homes. One near-universal phenomenon is an extension of the anxiety surrounding our own Black lives to an even more grim reality: our children may predecease us as victims of racist violence.
I’ve seen this sentiment expressed most widely in the form of memes and captions, expressing a specific anxiety of what it means to be a parent of a Black son. “Because I have a Black son,” they say. However, it’s important to acknowledge that we must be concerned for the well-being of all of our Black children: sons, daughters, and gender nonconforming.
The singular focus on Black men and boys in these discussions and pleas is a manifestation of Black patriarchy and misogynoir: it perpetuates the idea that somehow the loss of a Black son is any more devastating or tragic than the loss of a Black daughter. Thus, Black women are recruited to repost and share memes, mourning the tragedy or the distinct possibility of losing a Black son, specifically, ultimately perpetuating their own harm and erasure.
We have to acknowledge that our children’s Black skin can mark them as targets and trigger violence against them, regardless of their perceived gender.
Black daughters are victims of anti-Black, misogynist violence every day. Black gender queer people are victims of anti-Black queerphobic violence. As the parent of a Black daughter, the reality that she’s more susceptible to violence is both nauseating and horrifying. Her Black body deserves no less worry and protection than it would if she were my son. All of our Black children face physical and mental danger because of their race.
We must be extremely cautious about what messages we are sending, as well as the ones we don’t send, when we perpetuate language that emphasizes the fear of violence against a certain type of Black life. Not only do all Black Lives Matter, but all Black lives deserve our worry, concern, activism, and expressions of love.
We must reinforce the message that Black women should remain as vigilant and aware, if not more, of their Black lives as anyone else, as Black women are vulnerable to both state violence and patriarchal harms in their daily lives. As parents and village keepers, we must be as protective and concerned while raising and nurturing our little Black girls as we are when raising and nurturing our Black sons, if not more.
This is the time to collectively protect and collectively recognize the threat to all of Black existence. We cannot suggest, imply, or hint that there is any less reason to worry about the fate of our Black daughters, under any circumstances. I write this plea as the mother of a Black daughter, a mother who knows full well that her daughter’s Black life is under threat, daily.
I write this on behalf of the parents of then 15 year old Dajerria Becton, who watched the horrifically violent restraint of their daughter on video. I write this on behalf of the mother of Breonna Taylor, who buried her daughter in March, after a police officer shot Breona in her home. I write this on behalf of Mya Hall, a Black transgender woman, who was murdered by police after crashing into a security gate in an allegedly stolen car.
I write this on behalf of the parents of Alexis Christian, a Black woman, shot to death while handcuffed. I write this on behalf of the parents of Tanisha Anderson, who was killed from a head injury, after police slammed her face into the concrete.
There are pages of names, stories, stolen lives, victims of anti-Black violence, narratives of daughters who suffered the same fate as slaughtered sons — because of their Blackness.
They deserve our rage, our tears, anxiety, love, worry, frustration, vigilance, and protection. I write this as the parent of a Black daughter, knowing that I too could be one of those Black parents as long as racism and state-violence exist in this country and the rest of the world. Join me in my worry. Join me in my protection. My daughter and your son are both deserving of our fight.
Zes/Zesiro is a gender queer parent who fluctuates between she/her and they/them pronouns. They’re a writer, presenter, and organizer. Love, queervisibility, humanity, and abolition are at the center of what they do.