"boy: defending our black sons' identity in america
In light of the recent violence against Jacob Blake and in the year George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor Rayshard Brooks and other black Americans were killed or harmed by law enforcement officers and their allies, this book and movement hopes to inspire action and affect change for black men and their families.
“Mama…” That cry for help from George Floyd was the rallying cry that jolted Sherlyn Bennett from her seat. Her design company boasts a 99% female clientele but the job she never plans to retire from or pass to a successor is that of a mother. After years of highly publicized citizen deaths at the hands of police officers, she had seen and heard enough. "Boy: Defending Our Black Sons' Identity in America" is a compilation of stories from mothers around the country and speaks to the experiences black men and boys of all ages continue to live through.
“Mom, police cars are everywhere. I have no idea what’s going on.”
This inspired Bennett’s forthcoming book “Boy: Defending Our Black Sons' Identity in America” releases next summer and features a collection of compiled stories of mothers from all over the country recounting stories of their sons harrowing encounters with law enforcement and systemic racism that brutalized their sons on the street, in classrooms, on the playground and even at work. Bennett a mother of two adult sons recounts the helpless moments campus officers unlawfully detained her son because they didn’t believe he was a student at the university. Her son was only released after a coach confirmed that he wasn’t only a student but a member of the football team. This book tells previously unheard stories of mothers whose sons have experienced the cruel depravity of racism and police brutality as children and adults
To contextualize the need for shedding light on these stories (many of which have never been shared), noted historian and professor the late Dr. Patricia Hilliard- Nunn said, "There is a history of black men being sacrificial lambs...it has to stop. The lynching, the shooting, the disregard of their humanity. They are our sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and leaders. They were never American boys." From her death bed, she challenged the team to “make sure this work gets finished…”
The shared trauma of black men, black boys and their families is quantified in this book in hopes of providing community and creating resolve among readers and most importantly, mothers who feel the burden of trying to protect their sons in what appears to be open season on black men. When Bennett sprang into action earlier this year, she had no idea the depth of trauma inflicted on her own son. In a live interview, her son shared a frightening experience he withheld from her, not wanting to cause alarm. A parent’s job is never done and the bond between mothers and children never ends. Many men have similar experiences of internalizing painful experiences because sharing them would cause emotional harm to their loved ones. “Boy: Defending Our Black Sons' Identity in America”, though formed as literature is a safe space to not only read about the shared experiences of black families in America, but to gain the strength necessary to persevere and keep striving to see a brighter future!