Original Sin

Last night I attended a lecture by Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who has worked with the families of many dead black boys and men. He was covering all the statistics I’d heard on the over-representation of black men and boys in our criminal justice system. And then he segued into how over-represented black families are in the foster care system, and how “they are taking our children away from us.”

That sentence fell on me like a ton of bricks, because I am part of the system that is the “they” in that sentence. I’ve written many times that if I had a magic wand, my kids would have stayed with their birth family and grown up healthy and happy. I love my children more than my own life, but when you love someone you want the best for that person, and the best for my kids would have been a healthy and happy raising by their family of origin. The “best” certainly doesn’t include years of trauma and abandonment and heartbreak beginning at birth.

My church often talks about its “original sin,” which is that our co-founder wrote the editorial that sparked the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. As Mr. Crump was speaking I thought “this is my original sin.” I acquired children via a remarkably inequitable system that is part of an overall structure, based in slavery, designed to weaken black families, incarcerate black men, and reduce/eliminate black wealth.

If you’re unsure of my point, here is some reading:

I honestly don’t know what I will do about my original sin. I hope sharing this is a start. Thank you for reading.


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