‘I cannot express how scared I am for my son.’


[What follows is an open letter to her neighbors from a black woman and mother living in our community. She has asked us not to use her name because — unfortunately, but legitimately — she is fearful of possible repercussions.

The Local Reporter believes in transparency and doesn’t normally publish unsigned, anonymous articles. In fact, we don’t intend to do this again. But we are making a one-time exception in this case because we have, first, verified the woman’s identity and because the issues she addresses below are so urgent and compelling.]

Dear neighbors, 

It has been a joy living in this neighborhood for the last seven months. By now many of you at least know our dogs, Petey (the little tan one) and Pablo (the gray one). The reason for this message is because I want to share a little about who we are and how we are feeling in the midst of the much-needed but still frightening social unrest.

I want my black son to be safe in our neighborhood, which may be easier if you know who we are. 

I work at a local university where I focus on diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Prior to that, I worked at a Fortune 500 company in several roles related to diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. I serve as a commissioner for a professional organization where, again, my focus is on diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession. You may imagine what life has been like and continues to be for someone like me who is immersed in the work that I do. 

My son just celebrated his 15th birthday, COVID-style. He just finished his freshman year and plays basketball competitively. He’s quiet, logical and currently studying Taoism and Buddhism. Like many kids, he loves playing video games, but really, that’s just his way of maintaining friendships (like we used to do with our landline phones for hours on end). 

My son is afraid to run in the neighborhood — around our circle. So, he runs in our backyard. I am working out a way to create a path around our front and back yards so he has more distance. That’s our reality. I am nervous to let him mow the grass in front of our house. 

I will share with you what I shared with my friends. 

I cannot express how frightened I am. I cannot express how scared I am for my son. I cannot express how trapped I feel in this country. I cannot express the anxiety I feel. I cannot express the depression I feel. I cannot hold my tears in but yet my job requires me to be strong — this is what I do for a living. I cannot express my absolute desire to never leave my house.

I cannot normalize this. This cannot be my daily life. Please someone help. Black people have a lifetime of pain and fear and anger laying on our chests and we can’t breathe. If you are white, please try to imagine someone trying to hurt you and your family day in and day out. Imagine the terror and rage you would feel. How would you handle that?

That’s what Black people need you to do now. Go handle it because this is too much.

I just wanted to share a little about what our lives are like and for you to know that we are members of this community. That we love sharing our garden goodies. That we appreciate the kind words that we’ve exchanged with some of you.

Please watch out for my son. Please watch out for me. Please watch out for each other.

Your New Neighbors 

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1 Comment on "‘I cannot express how scared I am for my son.’"

  1. I so appreciate the writers willingness to tell us what it’s like for her and her son and to you for publishing it. I want her to know that I am committed to ‘dealing with it’ as best as I can. I wish her, and all POC, safety and peace.

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