These are peerless times. Last summer, I battled with anxiety and sadness when George Floyd was killed, and protests erupted across our country. This year, the assault on the Capitol left me feeling anger and despair. To cope, I’ve simply moved away from the negative energy on social media and disengaged from thoughts that can harden my heart. I hug my family tightly and reach out to other family members to check on them.
As a volunteer firefighter and former corrections officer, I understand the need for public safety. As an American, I struggled to grasp the acts that caused Floyd’s death and the hate and violence that unfolded in D.C. And as a Black man and the father of a teen-age boy with autism, I feel at a loss…a mixture of fear and vulnerability.
More and more each day I feel the color of my skin makes me more susceptible to fading away from society, similar to the ink of pages fading in the law books of a prison library. I have nightmares of being wrongly accused of a crime, being shot, and racially profiled when applying for employment opportunities. I can’t breathe! More and more, I look to the Bible every day for some type of relief for the anxiety that I feel.
For my son Shayne, I weep. He is only thirteen, but every day, he looks more and more like a man, a Black man. I’m scared that his innocence of seeing a person’s soul and heart for who they are will not protect him against people’s judgment. He is easily influenced because he just wants everyone to be happy. He can agree with what others say about him and not rely on his own understanding of himself. I’m scared that he might become overwhelmed by an onslaught of feelings, if confronted, and may speak without respect or love.
But I’m hopeful, too. Shayne has a great understanding of right and wrong. Deep down, he understands that police are here to protect and that they are called when someone does something wrong. I have taught him to see that law enforcement is not one shade of color or the other, but a passion to protect others from harm. He sees me and other civil servants doing this every day.
Still, we continue to work on his social awareness when going out, I make it a habit for him to see officers and wave and say hello. Why? Because he is not a product of my environment. He is not the product of hate and racism. He is not a boy who should fear anyone but God.
He is a boy who needs a little more assistance with social cues. He is a loving boy to everyone he meets. I want my brothers and sisters in law enforcement to know that my son and “ausome” children just like him are the epitome of milk and honey, of purity. Please embrace their differences and take initiative to connect when you come in contact with them.
When I look at my son and other ausome children like him, I see angels in our primitive world. What they embody is humanity. I hope for a future where there is no more of asking a person if they are Black or White, but just seeing them for their humanity, just as Shayne and other ausomes see the people around them. To be like our kids, we have to feel and make space in our hearts and minds. Our ausome children and adults are the key to the future.
Jamiel Owens, an autism dad and the host of The Ausome Show, previous contributed to the Reflections series with a story about his journey of becoming a father with the help of his son, Shayne.