As parents, we’re constantly confronted by the fact that we chose to bring children into a world we have failed to fix for them. In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, many mothers and fathers took to the streets in an effort to change that, and some brought their children along too. One pregnant Black mother posted a powerful photo of herself showing why she needed to be at a peaceful protest in Washington, D.C., even as others on the sidelines wondered if she was safe there.
“We are NOT carrying for 9 months, then struggling during labor for 9 hours just for you to kneel on their neck for 9 minutes!! Black Lives Matter,” read the sign Thema, also a mother of two boys, held in front of the Capitol building. According to Today.com, she was attending a protest led by Freedom Fighters DC on Wednesday.
As of this writing, her post has 16,878 likes and many comments about how beautiful and inspiring her photo is. But still, several felt the need to step in and tell Thema that she was wrong to put her fetus in danger by attending a peaceful demonstration, because of the potential harm of tear gas.
“I decided to take a stance,” she told Today on Sunday of why she attended the event. “Not only for all of the lives that we have lost from police brutality but for our children’s future! As soon as I walked up to the protest, everyone was very peaceful. Food and water were provided and everyone there was also ready to take their stance to make a difference. There were thousands of people, and everyone there made sure that I was not only protected but that I was also hydrated. During the march, it was made very clear that we do not condone violence.”
If you don’t believe a mother’s own opinion of her safety, you can visit the Freedom Fighters DC Instagram to see others’ videos of the day. But again, women and a children have a right to demonstrate, and the onus to keep them safe should go on the police.
For Thema, this is nothing compared to the danger her children will face growing up as Black men.
“It is every mother’s worst fear to get that call,” Thema told Today. “It genuinely angered me just to know that we carry these babies, these Black men in our wombs for nine months, experiencing troubles the entire time such as excessive vomiting, weight loss, weight gain, blood clots, hair loss, kidney swelling and that is just the tip of the iceberg. … Then the drastic pain of labor, some of us are in labor for nine hours and some are even in labor for 30 hours. Some women even come close to death during labor by excessive blood loss or difficulties and so much more for hours! Then for someone who vowed to protect and serve the people of all colors, just easily take our baby’s lives in nine minutes! Eight minutes and 46 seconds to be exact with no remorse or hesitation! That alone called me to the front line to stand up for our children. Enough is enough, new laws need to be in place and true justice needs to be served!”
As the week went on, there were fewer instances reported of police using excessive force against crowds, and more family marches popped up all over the world. Perhaps some of us needed to see Thema’s image to show us the way to stand up for Black lives.
In between attending marches, read your kids these diverse children’s books featuring girls of color.