As the mother of a child of color and a white woman, I am humbled that Single Mom Defined asked for my input. I can not describe guilt, anger, shame, hurt and fear that this young man’s death has brought up.

Have I done all that I can to protect my child, to empower him in his skin, to ensure he becomes a man? Or has my privilege blinded him?

I feel guilty that my sisters of color can never walk away from this sort of thing, but I tire so easily of trying to explain to other white people what racism is. It’s not fair that I don’t have to carry the burden at all times, but my child does and my sisters do. Tonight, I will go home and cook my son dinner. Antwon’s mother will not. What allows my boy to continue to live while her son is gone?

I’m angry that police brutality against people of color continues, and white people pretend it doesn’t happen. Why after Michael, Tamir, Freddy, Sandra, and countless others, does this still happen? Why is my child’s life worth less than a white child’s?

I’m angry that I have to speak to my child on how to conduct himself when he encounters law enforcement. Or that he must be better at everything than his white peers. And after all this, he may still be killed. It’s real to me that it can and will happen here.

I am ashamed of the white community. We created this racist system and turn a blind eye when we watch a child die. We look for excuses. Ashamed that so many of these people in our community think of my child as a good one. He shouldn’t be classified as this.

Why are there not more white protestors? Why is my Facebook timeline not filled with outrage and questions on how to help? I’m ashamed of the racist comments and lack of general compassion for a mom that’s lost her son.

I’m hurt that this is the world we live in, that I fell in love with a man of color and had a child of color. That I was young, innocent and so naive. I expected better from the world. I’m hurt for all the mothers that feel like I do, for all the mothers who have lost their little boys, first to adulthood, then to police violence.

I’m hurt that this city would expect us to not protest, not scream out, not riot. I thought here, in Pittsburgh, we’d do better for Antwon.

I’m 45, and I believed in the goodness of people. They aren’t good.

I am fearful to send my son out into this world next year. He will be 18 in January and finishes high school in June. I will no longer have him in my home every night.

I will pray my best was enough. That he will get a chance to become a man, a husband, a father. I will be afraid he will make a mistake, as young men do, and he will die for it.

I’m afraid for the protesting to continue and more lives are lost, but I’m afraid for it to stop. The momentum has to continue. Lastly, I’m afraid of the hate that has surfaced, the wickedness that really exists her in Pittsburgh.

I will look to all the moms who have gone before me with these same burdens and follow along, praying, hoping and worrying. I will carry Antwon’s mothers pain in my soul, knowing it could have been my child. I will not quit fighting for my beautiful brown child, for the boys I did not know that aren’t here, for all marginalized people. I will be happy that people don’t like my message of enough is enough. I will be happy to loose those friends. I will be thankful for my son’s father and his family, even though I have raised this child alone. They are a wonderful support for my son, and that removes any bitterness. He needs them, and they are there for him to lean on. To explain what I can’t, to guide him through pain I’ll never truly experience.

Maybe when my son has a 17 -year-old child, it will be a better world. I hope I will have done my part to make it that way.

Jacquie Thomas