Do you have any kids?
It was always the next question.
Yes. A son.
It’s true: I have a son. He’s my miracle boy, born when the doctors said it wasn’t possible.
He’s in San Diego.
I’m not proud of lying. But everyone blamed me—my poor parenting must have been the reason my son was incarcerated—so I learned to say what they’d be okay with hearing. I’d already lost one job because of it (we do, after all, have a reputation to uphold), and I wasn’t going to risk another.
My son was the first person I knew to go to prison. Some people know far more. I know black mothers who visit their sons in prison. And their nephews, cousins, and brothers. The stories I hear: the generations that know this and have felt this.
Visitation is hard on everyone. I’ve been in the women’s bathroom with a dozen mothers cutting the underwires out of their bras—a recent proscription—so that they could see their children. I’ve witnessed tearful grandmothers turned away after their wedding rings set off security alarms; metal detectors have no sympathy for swollen fingers.
But even still, I have hope. I won’t give up. You gotta believe you can change this. Now that I’m retired, I attend community meetings, I call the papers, I storm the warden’s office. I do what I can for my son. My only child. My miracle boy.