source: The Guardian US
published: 17 August 2021
Narene Stokes couldn’t help but notice the only white woman in the crowd. Sheila Albers had come to grieve. Like Narene, like all the mothers gathered for the meeting, her teenage son had been shot and killed by police.
“On July 28, 2013,” Narene began, “in Kansas City, Missouri, my life changed forever.” Her voice was soft, a piece of silk ribboned on the wind. “A police officer shot my only son, Ryan Lee Stokes, in the back.”
On 20 January 2018, a policeman had shot Sheila’s 17-year-old son in the back of the head.
Sheila had come to meet other mothers who’d lost children to police violence. She worried if the moms would accept her, a white woman from the suburbs. She feared her presence might exacerbate their grief, might even insult mothers whose suffering was the brutal culmination of centuries of racism she could never understand.
But Sheila was lonely, and in following the mothers’ stories, she found Narene.
“Ryan never saw the officer who shot him,” Narene said. Sheila’s son John never saw the officer who shot him. “Ryan had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and he was unarmed.” So was John.
“I watched my son walk out our front door for the last time,” Narene continued. She gestured to the crowd. “Now I’m the mama of all these mamas.”
Sheila broke down.