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When Getting Groceries Leads to Handcuffs: A Family's Encounter with Racial Injustice

Racial profiling hits home. A son's traumatic experience while simply retrieving groceries from a neighbor's house leaves his parents shaken and searching for support.

Hey MJ,

I'm writing with a heavy heart and a sense of disbelief over an incident that occurred with my son yesterday. He became a victim of racial profiling in our own neighborhood, an experience that has left us both shaken.

Here's what happened: Our groceries were mistakenly delivered to a neighbor's house. I asked my son to go next door to retrieve them. He went inside, got our clearly marked groceries, and was leaving when the police suddenly showed up. Someone in our neighborhood, where we've lived for four years as one of only two Black families, called 911 and reported a burglary.

The police arrived with guns drawn and a helicopter overhead. They made my 16-year-old son back out of the house, kneel down, handcuffed him, and put him in a police car. Thankfully, he's physically okay, and the police were apologetic once I arrived and explained the situation. But the damage was done. The emotional toll of this incident is immense.

My son is the kindest and most polite person, known and seen regularly in our neighborhood. Yet, he's now another young Black man who's had to endure such a terrifying and unjust experience. I'm filled with anger toward the neighbor who made the call and immense hurt for what my son has gone through.

I guess I'm just looking for words of support right now. It's hard to process this, and I'm not even sure what steps to take next.



Dear Anonymous,

The incident you've described with your son is deeply distressing and a stark, painful example of racial profiling's real-world impacts. It's natural and justified to feel a whirlwind of emotions, from anger to hurt to disbelief.

First and foremost, it's critical to address the emotional and psychological impact this experience has had on your son. The trauma of such an encounter, especially at a young age, can be profound. I strongly recommend seeking the support of a counselor or therapist, preferably one who specializes in racial trauma and adolescent mental health. This professional guidance can be instrumental in helping your son process his emotions, navigate his trauma, and build resilience.

In terms of addressing the incident within your neighborhood, consider your family's emotional safety first. If you feel it could be constructive, you might think about initiating a conversation within your community about racial profiling and its damaging effects. This could be a step toward fostering understanding and preventing such incidents in the future. However, it's essential to weigh the potential benefits against the emotional toll such discussions might take on you and your son.

Building and leaning on a support network is crucial at this time. Connect with family, friends, and community members who can provide emotional backing. Additionally, there are organizations and support groups dedicated to helping families who have endured similar experiences. They can offer a comforting space to share your story, receive advice, and connect with others who have faced similar challenges.

As you navigate this trying period, it's important to reaffirm to your son - and to yourselves - his value, strength, and the love that surrounds him. Though such incidents are unjust and deeply unsettling, they can also catalyze increased awareness and advocacy, both within your family and your wider community.

Kenbe la,



In 2020, the "Badass Black Girl" book series author M.J. Fievre began receiving correspondence from a varied audience, including parents, young adults, and teens. Fievre, an established author and speaker, is known for her insightful engagement with themes relevant to these demographics. The communication, primarily through Facebook or the Badass Black Girl inbox, revolves around topics covered in her books and public talks. These interactions display a rich tapestry of experiences and viewpoints, highlighting the author's impact on her readers.

“Hey, MJ” is a platform created to foster a meaningful connection between M.J. Fievre and her readers. It offers a forum for open dialogue, personalized advice, and the sharing of collective experiences. The platform's effectiveness is rooted in Fievre's expertise as an author and speaker. Her work, particularly in the "Badass Black Girl" series, showcases her deep understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by her audience. Her background as an educator and her commitment to empowering young voices further enhance her ability to offer relevant and empathetic responses.

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