My middle child is a son. He grew up in House District 44 and graduated from West Orange High School where he was Class President. He is college educated, a professional, a husband and a father. He has no criminal record and works to improve the lives of people in the community where he lives. He sometimes walks or jogs throughout our neighborhood where 74 percent of the residents don't look like him. If he is gone for what I consider an inordinate period of time, I become concerned. My concern is rooted in recollections of experiences that he shared with me during his childhood.
Those experiences included being called the "N" word by two boys next door, not being invited to a pool party because the parents of a good friend said people like him couldn't swim in their pool and countless times when he was followed as he visited the mall or shopped in stores.
As his mother, these experiences caused me great pain and prompted me to explain to him some of the ugly realities in our society. I helped him understand that, unfortunately, people sometimes acted solely based on the color of his skin and what they saw on the outside. Being responsible for the upbringing of an African American male child in our society presents some out-sized challenges and allows me to put myself in the shoes of the mothers of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and so many others who have seen their sons devalued and destroyed because of the preconceived notions of others. Our criminal justice system must, indeed, be color blind because all lives matter.
'Being responsible for the upbringing of an African American male child in our society presents some out-sized challenges ...'
State Rep. Geraldine Thompson is a Democrat representing District 44. She was a state senator from 2012 to 2016, and previously served in the Florida House from 2006 to 2012. District 44 includes Windermere, Winter Garden, Gotha, Lake Buena Vista, as well as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld, International Drive and the Orange County Convention Center.
Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.