Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

I’m a mother of a handsome, 22-year-old Black man. I’ve been incarcerated now for almost four years, and it’s been a long and hard experience for the both of us. 

Every day, I pray that my son makes it through the day without having any negative encounters with the police. I pray that God protects him against all the things that could go wrong in this world that could cost him his life. 

I find myself calling him even more now, just to hear his voice. I constantly worry about my son’s safety in his home. Our young Black men feel unsafe, even there, when they are doing everything right. They have to worry about losing their lives at the hands of the police, trying not to draw unwanted attention to themselves. 

Every day I remind my son to make sure that his registration and insurance information is correct and easy to find before he even gets into the car, to speak loudly and clearly, in order to be heard if he is stopped, to always keep his phone charged so he can record any and all conversations and actions of himself and the police, to be home before a certain time at night. 

But even after all of that, I hang up and wonder, “Will he be safe?” A bullet from the police with hatred in their hearts is the reason why so many families are protesting, calling for justice. 

As a mother behind prison walls, I raise my son over the phone. I can tell that he wants me to stop worrying so much. He understands that there isn’t much I can do from here, but I fight every day the best I can to be a part of his life, a positive influence on the decisions he makes. We talk constantly about how the same rules and laws the world has to live by also applies to the police even as they serve and protect. Why is this ignored? When will there be consequences for their actions? When will it stop? 

Who gives the police officers the right to decide to shoot and kill our young Black men? No amount of money will replace our children. When will they be held accountable for their actions? Why is it that Black families have to fight for justice while burying their children, especially when the actions of the police officers are proven to be wrong? From these prison walls, I hear other mothers crying because they wanted to hug their son one last time, but they can’t. 

This scourge affects everyone, whether a child is lost or not. We have dreams for them — and for ourselves — from the day they are born. 

I was a single mother, and my son wasn’t raised incorrectly — he’s everything that a mother could pray for. We shouldn’t have to limit the way we live our lives. We want the same things that these officers want for their own children. 

As a prison mother, I want my son to become a wonderful father one day. I want to know the proud feeling of becoming a grandparent. I want my son to be a blessing to someone, not a target. What we want is justice, not a payoff.

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Keshia Freeman

Keshia Freeman is a writer incarcerated at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Virginia.