Thutmose sent me an e-mail and asked me to write about Lavena Johnson. In truth I have known about what happened to this young woman for awhile and have purposefully not posted about this issue. It is not because I do not acknowledge that what happened to her is horrendous, or that I do not believe that justice needs to be sought in her name. There are certain events when they occur that hurt me so deeply, I am unable to find the words. As a WOC and a mother I cannot imagine the pain of her parents. Every time I think of her my soul screams with such a rage, that I lose the ability to be coherent. I look at my children and gather them close to me awash with a feeling of fear. I think of the bodies of color that have been subject to violence at the whims of men in power, and something inside me snaps.
I am so very angry, and at the same time so very terrified. When you send your children out into the world you worry for their safety knowing that others will seek to take advantage of them. You stay awake nights hoping not only for their success and happiness, but for their safety. I cannot conceive of my child being violated in the manner that this promising young woman was. I cannot conceive of looking at the lifeless body of my child, knowing that their very last moments on this planet were filled with pain, knowing that I could not have prevented it. Though Lavena was not my child, it is with a mothers anguish that I think about her. It is with a mothers love that I mourn her passing
When I think of her, I think of how many black mothers have had the same experience. I think of the mothers weeping who watched their children sold away from them. I think of the mothers, powerless to stop the rape of their daughters, and the mothers that cut down their sons bodies after being lynched by hate mobs. Pain and suffering is often synonymous with black motherhood. We spend endless days teaching our children how to negotiate the system to stay safe, knowing even as we do this, racism and sexism work against our most valiant efforts. What happened to Laveena is my nightmare. Though I regularly state that motherhood is not the totality of my existence, my love for my children over rides any other emotion that I could possibly feel. They have made me the woman that I am. So when I read Lavena's story I wondered was her last word mommy, did she seek salvation from the one that undoubtedly loved her the most?
I know that for the rest of her life Mrs.Johnsons her arms will ache to hold her daughter. I know that she will strain to hear echoes her laughter in windchimes, and that a picture that is lovingly placed in remembrance, can never capture the true essence of the person that has been lost. Motherhood is filled with many challenges but it should not be filled with this kind of sorrow, and this kind of soul breaking pain. And so I weep, not only for Lavena Johnson, but every mother who has ever had the pain of losing a child to violence, racism and sexism. Sleep peacefully princess and may dreams of angels wings guide you in your slumber.