As a Black mom, I don’t want to fear for the life of my children anymore

I hope my children are the last generation to deal with racial hate.

As a Black mom, I don’t want to fear for the life of my children anymore

It never fails—whenever we take a car trip of more than 20 minutes all three of my sons fall asleep. Something about the subtle buzz of the car engine and white noise of the road lulls them to sleep every time. I like to take sporadic peeks in my rear-view mirror to amuse myself as I countdown to nap time. It's become a bit of a running joke in our family, so much that my husband and I often snap "gotcha" photos for our gallery of adorable evidence.

At 7, 8 and 10 years old, our sons have managed to stay in the adorable stage (all the parents understand what I mean). They still talk about SpongeBob's friends like they are family members and arguing about the best Beyblades is about as complicated as their lives get.

During my quiet time on our car trips, I drift off in a different way. I think about that innocence and when they'll no longer fit comfortably in the backseat of our family sedan. I worry about when my cute little kids will be perceived as threatening Black men.

The fear is real

I've always had this fear—from the day I gave birth to my firstborn. The fear intensified eight years ago when the hashtag #Hoodies4Trayvon started. The murder of Trayvon Martin shook me to my core. That's when I realized that my children were special to me, but they weren't especially special. Suddenly, my name was Sybrina Fulton and every mother who's ever lost a child to overt racism. "A child," I thought. That adorable stage and its safety net were cut short.

I was broken and scared for my babies and all Black men for that matter. And as far as I was concerned, they were Trayvon Martin. I dressed them in hoodies and took a photo to memorialize the moment and his memory because one day I hoped to show my boys the "progress" we've made.

I still hold on to that hope.

The trauma is real

Of course, I'll never look at hoodies the same way. To this day, I get angry if my boys cover their heads inside a store or if it isn't raining. That one act is still triggering—resulting in a fearful reprimand that normally ends with intentional eye contact and a desperate "Do you understand?"

There aren't many things my boys can do without triggering me. Black men in our society abide by a long list of "don't dos." It used to be eye it's an impossible list ranging from hoodies to jogging. So, don't be impressed by my "well-behaved" boys. Most mamas take that as a glowing compliment, but mothers who know are screaming on the inside, "They don't have a choice!" Our kids have been in training since they've taken their first steps.

Our police academy training

Black parents tuck away their fears and trauma well. After all, we were once trainees too. I proudly wear the badge of the stereotypical Sergeant Black Mom, because I know just like my Gran and the generation of matriarchs before her, that it keeps the cadets alive.

Still, none of us are immune to the insecurity of failed training or the system falling short of its promise. The Black parents I know all fear the day that our children see the dreaded blur of police lights in their rear-view mirror. The day they put their police academy training to use.

Every Black Parents' Training Manual

· License, registration and insurance on the dashboard before the officer exits the vehicle

· Ensure your window is already down

· Turn on the light in the vehicle if it's nighttime

· Hands atop the steering wheel in plain sight...and keep them there. Don't even rub your eye.

· Speaking of eyes, make respectful eye contact...or don't if the officer appears particularly power driven

· Keep commentary to a minimum (I will spare the reader this long list of scenarios)

· Know why you're being detained. If the officer asks, "Do you know why I pulled you over?" Your answer is always, "No, did I do something wrong?" Don't confess to anything

I know this drill well because I'm also a graduate of the police academy. My brother and I were subject to police academy pop quizzes whenever we asked for the car keys. The interrogation went something like this: Where are you going? Charlotte's house. When will you be back? Before dinner (as if we had a choice). If you get stopped, what's your only job? To get home safe.

As I write this, I realize that we have passed down police distrust like a family heirloom. Except it's what none of us want to inherit— a set of rules and survival instincts masquerading as "good manners." I force these conversations on my children and they're not even close to driving age yet. Every now and then, I'll remind my husband (a Black man) of his Miranda rights on his way out the door. Of course, what I really mean is, get home safe. Please.

It's as exhausting as it sounds. Add to that the frustrating mission of trying to get people to understand that this isn't a case of victimhood. We aren't whining—we are angry, tired and desperate to be the last fighting generation. Fighting for our kids to safely walk to the store for some Skittles, to play at the park, to go for a run in their return home and enjoy a bowl of ice cream after a long day.

I fight every day for those boys in the backseat. Sneaking in lessons at the dinner table, the basketball court, walks to the park, but my favorite time is in the car. As a professional communicator, I know that it's precious airtime with my captive audience and I'm committed to their success.

I teach them that every human being is special—no matter their race, background, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. They know that in life there are the proverbial good cops and bad cops as applied to real-world examples, including personal experiences. And they understand the rules of engagement that Mom and Dad so diligently reinforce.

I wish everyone could see what I see in my rear-view mirror. Empathetic and tender hearts that will inevitably be broken by the reality of racism…unless we fix it. Face what's broken and stand still in the discomfort long enough to heal the ills of history. Our generation can collectively grab the wheel and mash the gas to leave systemic racism in our rear-view forever.

In my rear-view mirror, I see sweet representations of hope. The last fighting generation who will root out hate. Three human beings who will help change the world.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!


Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!


Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.


A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.


A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.


Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)


Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.


A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.


This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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