black women

How exposure to police can ruin the innocence of black children

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By Angela L. Braden

Harriette Cole, author of Words We Live By, penned an essay to discuss her rising concerns that her 11-year-old daughter is exposed to the awful realities of the world we live in.  In this beautifully written narrative that was published by The Root on Jan. 9, Cole describes how frightened her daughter became after seeing an army of police armed with machine guns while on a field trip in New York City.

In the essay, Cole shares with the readers how she took off of work to join her daughter on a field trip to Chinatown in New York City.  While en route to Chinatown, the group of eleven and twelve-year-old children were met by a group of heavily armed police officers.

Cole stated that “the boys in blue” were dressed in all black and were carrying what appeared to be machine guns.  The giggly, innocent mood of the children abruptly shifted when the kids saw the law enforcement officers posted up at Times Square.  Because the teachers and parents realized that the children were confronted with a scene that was quite unfamiliar and potentially frightening to them, the adults tried to swiftly move the children beyond the officers.

“As a group we quickly moved past them, attempting to shield our children’s bodies and awareness. Thanks to the distraction of the field trip and the icy wonder of walking around as snow kissed their noses and eyelashes, the children seemed to let that frightening moment pass.”

Although Cole tried to shield her daughter from the frightening law enforcement officers with the big guns, her daughter was still impacted by what she had seen that faithful day in Times Square.

Cole writes, “It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered what impact that momentary scene had had on my usually confident and happy child. As she was waking herself up, she was fretful. I thought it was because she had stayed up too late the night before. She clarified that she had had “another nightmare.” In this one she dreamed of the weapons-bearing officers she had seen the day before.”

Cole states in her essay that the “stench of instability is suffocating this world.”  She points out how some of the violent, terrifying incidents that kids have had to witness in today’s society, like the Sandy Hook School Shooting, causes children to be uncertain and afraid for their safety.

Cole admits that she struggles with ways she can protect her daughter in a very unstable world.  However, Cole is committed to providing her daughter with useful strategies and spiritual tools to cope and manage in today’s society.

“I do not wear naive glasses. I know that I cannot shield my daughter or our collective children from all the ills of the world. I do believe that we can teach them ways to build alliances rather than either run in fear or dare to point back at a weapon with a weapon.  I will continue to guide her using all of the tools in my practical and spiritual arsenal,” she wrote.