Last night we encountered the same struggle with bed time. My 6-year-old began to fidget, bounce around, and disregard his parent’s directions. He ran to hide in my bedroom closet and emotionally closed up by protecting himself with anger. From what my wife and I are gathering, his hyper-vigilant behavior is a mask for his anxious state that he can neither interpret nor articulate. So, he reacts by oscillating between unwarranted laughter to closed-in anger, uncontrollable to his developing brain.
He remained in REM.
This unprecedented behavior of his began 24 hours after three bullets riddled our house three weeks back, around 10:30pm. One bullet entered the front of the house, passed over my head in one room, continued into his room and landed in the wall, 1 foot over his sleeping head. He remained in REM. Although my wife, my brother, and I moved my two sons to a different space in the home, protecting them from the noisy chatter of police, dry-wall debris scattered throughout the room, and a crying mother, somehow their undisturbed sleeping brains recorded fragments of that evening.
Because they remained asleep, to protect their souls, we naturally went with the idea to cover up the event up by creating a fantastical story to explain the holes in the wall. Too no avail did that work. Children’s intuitions are strong, probably a lot stronger than adults. My 6-year-old knew something happened that night, and he immediately concluded that it was bullet holes.
I promised they will.
One week later, after numerous nights of extremely unfamiliar behavior, he finally found the
describe and direct us to the source of his fears. After one night of closet hiding, nervous laughter, unaccounted anger, I decided to just play with him instead of putting him to bed. At that moment, he immediately calmed down. He began to ask me about robbers coming into our house, taking our savings, books, and toys (everything “we” value…lol). Several minutes later, after tossing the ball around and playing with hot-wheels, he further asked about the holes in the wall. He wondered how they got there and if they will ever go away. I promised him they will. The association between robbers and the holes finally confirmed to my wife and I that our son was traumatically impacted by that incident.
Three years ago, I wrote about my frustrations and the struggle to maintain residence in North Minneapolis. Several break-ins and property damage conjured challenging thoughts and realities to living here. Long hard conversations concluded with the notion that we cannot raise our children in this community and that we had to sell the home. However, three bullets through our home, one landing over my child’s head, and the continuous disturbance that happens every week in “hot houses” across the street was enough to convince my wife and I that we are taking too long to sell our home and go.
My concern is that I will lose sight of my understanding, my compassion for my people…..
Humbly, if you put me next to any scholar, politician, or community expert on the subject, I think I can argue, advocate, and contextualize about the plight of my people with some of the best of them (I must note that I never speak about myself like this). Yet, when I face situations like this, all of that becomes hazy. This scares the shit out of me. I’m trying to be mindful of the systemic socioeconomic and political circumstances inflicted upon my people. I’m trying to remind myself of what Dr. Jawanzaa Kunjufuu teaches us about “social entropy”, where the suppressed energy of a group of people will change momentum and combust horizontally usually affecting the lives of the same people. My concern is that I will lose sight of my understanding of my people; the compassion for my people and the deeper commitment of the feasibility of collective change. The little quiet voice in the far reaches of my soul attempts to say, “that’ll never happened”, but it’s not loud enough to overshadow the noisy fearful thoughts.
My wife and I are intentional about the images and messages that the boys are exposed to. We attempt to provide affirming ideas, pictures, and narratives about African Americans. Every conversation that we can have is highlighting the greatness of our people. Are we 100% with it? No. In America, no African descendant can be. The permeating onslaught of white-supremacy and the demented psychotic messages that radiates around and within America finds its way into the minds of our children. As a counter measure, we attempt to provide honest, accurate, and healthy images to combat it as much as possible. Beyond our home efforts, I thank Allah for spaces and movements such as Imhotep Science Academy (ISA), Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NDCAD), Voice of Culture, Sankofa Underground North Academy (SUN), and the numerous people who provide community family to my children. I make this point for one reason: I genuinely wish that my children’s direct neighborhood community genuflected more healthier images of our people.
Our children, our wealth as Mahmoud El Kati refers to them, are the center piece of any community’s health.
In Commitment: To the Rock or Concept, I briefly discuss the historical development of the
concentrated area of Blacks in North Minneapolis. The oppression of white supremacy, in all its various forms, has marginalized and prohibited opportunities for Black progression, causing a perpetuating cycle of reactionary survivalist existence that individualizes people’s ethics. “It’s about me, not we, fuck all the other shit”, one person exclaimed to me years ago. It has flipped over two or three generations now (probably more) in this community and I can clearly see its results and effects within our youth. It makes sense why the Masai people greet one another with “Kasserian Ingera”, which translates to “are the children well?”. Our children, our wealth as Mahmoud El Kati refers to them, are the center piece of any community’s health. They are damn sure the center of my family. So, when my son is not sleeping, scared, and anxious from the community that is unhealthy, I have an obligation as a father to make changes and provide a thriving, safe environment that will induce physical and mental comfort for him. In the same light, we are currently seeking child-therapy for him to make sure we develop the techniques to help him and ourselves.