The picture shows Owusu’s son in a pink button-down shirt posing with Matt, both of them wearing easy smiles despite their long night. According to ABC News, Owusu wrote the post to, “give recognition to the trooper for keeping her son safe because ‘it was very comforting to me as a mother.” She never expected it to go as viral as it has.
While it’s heartwarming to hear her story — a small example of all the good law enforcement officials do everywhere, every day — to many mothers like myself, it’s still heartbreaking to think that this woman felt the need to thank a police officer for not racially profiling her son.
Offer thanks for helping a kid change his tire? Yes. Offer thanks for not asking him if the car is stolen? No.
It’s a reality that many moms of young black men face: at some point in their lives, they will be discriminated against based on their skin color. Still, knowing it doesn’t mean it’s any easier to let them leave the house each morning. It’s been said that having a baby is akin to watching a mother’s heart walk around outside of her body. But to watch it walk around and not know if it will come back because he might be mistaken for a criminal? No parent should need to worry about that.
Thank you notes expressing gratitude for doing the right thing is never wrong. But we, as a collective, need to work on doing right by each other — especially young black men — to change the narrative and make stories like this the rule, not the exception.