6 Latina Moms Discuss the Fears They Have for Their Children in Light of Rampant Police Violence

6 Latina Moms Discuss the Fears They Have for Their Children in Light of Police Brutality
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Latina mothers are scared. They worry each time their children walk out the door, fearing more than kidnappings or car accidents – though those concerns remain, too. But now they are accompanied by panics that police officers, those their children are taught to seek help from, are the ones who will perpetuate violence against them.

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Evidence shows they should be scared, too. This year alone, cops have killed 630 people, most of them Black, Native and Latinx. At 100 police killings of Latinxs since January, it looks like 2016 will bring in more deaths than last year, indicating this problem is only growing. Just last month, Alton Sterling, Pedro Villanueva, Philando Castile and Anthony Nuñez became household names because a law-enforcement officer ended their life.

As mothers to Black and brown children, Latina moms feel under siege. Here, some discuss their everyday trepidations, distrust in police officers and the criminal justice system, conversations they’ve had with their children and more.

Devany Lugo, Puerto Rican, Bronx, New York

As a young mother to a 6-year-old son who is Puerto Rican and Indo-Guyanese, I have already experienced moments that have laid a foundation for future concerns. I am worried about what both of his racial and cultural identities mean for him. In today's society of heightened fears and stereotypes around people of South Asian descent, and especially those who follow the Muslim faith, I worry that my child will grow to live with these ignorant judgments. I have already experienced moments where outsiders assumed his race and judged him for it. Having heard of those within the Muslim community, and those thought to be a part of it, being wrongfully attacked, I fear that as he grows older, he could possibly face this same discrimination. At the same time, I fear any future interaction between my child and the NYPD. Growing up in the South Bronx, it was almost customary for officers to line up young Black and Latino males against walls or force them to the ground while they harassed them, looking for reasons to cite them. I’ve seen young men being put in the back of police vans just for vocalizing their want to not be harassed. These incidents gave these young men records, forcing them into a system that does not care for them. Every day we see and are presented with the fact that there are little to no repercussions for officers who steer off the path of justice, and I cannot help but fear that one day my child may run into one.

Celina Milner, Mexican, Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m a 40-year-old half-Mexican, half-Italian woman, and I honestly believe that race has become more of an issue now than when I was a child.  The racial tensions, especially in Salt Lake City, are stronger. Here, the majority of police officers are white. Not too long ago, a young Black man was shot by officers for carrying a sword that was used for decorative purposes. I fear that my 14-year-old son, whose father is Salvadoran, could share that man’s fate for just playing with his friends outside. Both my son, Giovanni, and I know that his white friends running around the neighborhood with air soft guns that look very similar to real guns would be given the benefit of the doubt that they are just local teens playing, but if my son was seen running through the neighborhood with the same toy gun he would not be extended the same benefit of doubt and he runs the risk of being shot before any questions are asked. While this may not be fair or right, it's very much the reality of our lives currently, and these are the conversations I have to have as a Latina mom of Latino children. I'm running for office here in Salt Lake City to represent my family and others to hopefully change these negative stereotypes and racial tensions that are only getting worse.

Anonymous, Dominican, Saint Cloud, Florida

My mixed-race, mostly Dominican, family recently moved from New Jersey to Saint Cloud, Florida, a semi-rural part of the state. While I’m half-Jewish, half-Dominican, it’s the first time my husband, also Dominican, and I have lived in a mostly white town. There are Confederate flags everywhere and lots of guns. I'm worried about my kids, a boy and two girls, making friends, and eventually how they'll be treated when they're old enough to be without us in public. My son, 8, is a little shy and reserved. I worry that a cop will suspect him of something and not give him enough time to respond or defend himself. I'm concerned about the kids being at someone else's home, where they might be exposed to improperly stored guns and racist opinions. Actually, I just realized that one of the kids from my son's baseball team lives two blocks away, but they have a Confederate flag decorative license plate on their car, and I'm uncomfortable with that. I don't think that they'll blatantly say racist things to or about him, but subtle forms of racism are a concern for me. People discussing things like Dixie pride, Confederate pride, rewriting U.S. history or anything anti-Black Lives Matter in front of the kids worries me.

Leyna Gonzalez, Mexican, Tucson, Arizona

With all that's going on today regarding police brutality, I fear for the future of my children. At the moment, my son and daughter, who are half-Mexican, half-Black, are still very young, so I hope there is change as they grow up. I pray for them every day, regardless if they’re going to school, playing outside or shopping at the mall. My son is 12, and he works every Saturday at a well-known barbershop in Tucson sweeping hair. One day, he dreams of owning his own shop. I know he can do it, but I fear if he has a nice car and nice clothes, he will be stereotyped as a drug dealer and have a hard time with police or jealous people. We've instilled morals, values and respect into our kids and run a tight ship in our home. I can't see my children or their children going through anything worse than what's already happening now. America needs to do better because this is unacceptable.

Veronica Velez, Puerto Rican, Brooklyn, New York

As a mother to a young Black – he’s half-Puerto Rican, half-Jamaican – 13-year-old man, by society’s standards, I fear for his life every day. I raised him to not see color, but then he saw that it was men of color splattered on the front pages of newspapers. I then taught him how to handle a situation if police officers ever stopped him, but with the death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, young men who did things “right,” everything I told him is in question. "But, mom, he listened,” my son told me. “Why did they shoot him?!" I don’t know. Now I’m concerned for my son to just be outside alone. I will forever fight for peace as long as the world sees my young man, my baby, as a threat without knowing him.

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Corina Gutierrez, Chicana, Tri-Cities, Washington

I have two daughters, ages 4 and 11, and I fear that because they are women with brown skin and Mexican names, they may be turned down for a job and have to work twice as hard to get recognition for their work. I fear I can’t protect them from what comes with being brown. I can’t protect them from the looks that they’ll get because they are Mexican American. I can’t protect them from negative stares or comments they may see on social media regarding our culture and color. When you are brown, you will be associated with negativity by people who are closed-minded and ignorant. I am an adult, and I can handle it if someone uses negative words and attitudes toward me, but I do not want my children to have to face racism. They are sweet, beautiful girls, and their skin color should not make them targets. I do not want my daughters to live a mediocre life. I want them to live their lives to the fullest, without fear. I want them to be fearless. I am fearful enough for them.