The 33-year-old was left shocked at how a White family at the outdoor play area of the restaurant seemed to perceive the young boy as a danger to their little girl.
Danielle Bayard Jackson was with her 2-year-old son Elijah at a local restaurant last weekend when "the shift" occurred: the moment her "sweet, sweet boy went from being 'cute' to scary." The 33-year-old was left shocked at how a White family at the outdoor play area of the restaurant seemed to perceive the young boy as a danger to their little girl. "It was just this moment that signified a shift," Jackson told Good Morning America. "I think that all Black moms know exactly what I'm talking about but it might be hard for others to recognize."
According to Jackson, when Elijah spotted the young girl, he ran to her "filled with excitement at finding a new friend." The girl, however, went over to her parents, pointed a finger at Elijah, and told them he was following her. In a moving Instagram post that's gone viral, the Florida mom recounted how the parents looked at her and her son before reaching out to their daughter saying "Come, stay close," as they moved away from Elijah. "It was a dreaded milestone unfortunately for a young Black boy, when they go from being seen as cute to when people start to clutch their purse or walk on the other side of the street and point to them and make accusations and you never know when that's going to happen," said Jackson.
"The incident was a realization that it's already happening to Elijah. It's a loss of innocence," she added. Jackson—a professional friendship coach who also owns her own public relations firm—explained that she shared the incident on social media because she wants people to see what she describes as a direct link between what happened to Elijah and what later happens to adult Black men like George Floyd and Daunte Wright.
Minneapolis area residents are trying to organize and heal in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright by police https://t.co/7wYGZSRboM— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 15, 2021
Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis on April 11. The fatal shooting occurred just miles away from where the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is underway. "Until we start making the connection, I can't feel as hopeful about us healing as a country," she said. "Until we start connecting small moments like that to the big things we're seeing, then we're not going to get better." Part of this missed connection, Jackson added, is what she saw as a "missed learning opportunity" from the parents of the young girl who pointed at Elijah.
They confirmed "her unwarranted fear of him, when they could have said, 'Oh baby, he's just looking for a friend. Go play,'" she said. "Moments after, a white child walked by and she waved hello and the girl waved hello and the parents all made eye contact and chuckled with each other." Sharing her devastation over the incident on Instagram, she wrote: "To you, it may seem small. But every Black mother dreads 'the shift': George Floyd called out to his mother with his last breaths. Daunte Wright called his mother before his life was snatched.
When Elijah gets a license, grows a mustache, and fills with muscles, a White woman may point to him and call him 'suspicious.' And I know the task that lies ahead is one of years of affirming him, protecting him. Don't they know that beneath the peach fuzz and biceps he will always be my beautiful brown boy?"
"If our kids push a white kid down, it's not going to be seen with the same level of innocence as, 'Oops, you just had a tumble.' It's going to be seen as my son being aggressive," she said. "Black kids don't get the luxury of being loud and running and stumbling. They don't get the same space. We often say that childhood is a luxury for young Black kids. They don't get to be silly and loud and wild and free kids because it can always be mistaken as something else."