“What can I say? He was a good boy. He didn’t bother nobody.” 

“He was a good kid, and I don’t have him anymore…there’s nothing I can do. I gotta bury my child.”

These are the words from Simone Thomas, the newest member of an elite group that no one wants to be part of. Thomas is now one of the many Black mothers who can no longer hug her son, laugh at his jokes, and witness his triumphs.

Her son, 20-year-old Kouren Thomas, was gunned down by Chad Copley last Sunday. The Raleigh, North Carolina, homeowner told a 911 dispatcher he wanted to “secure his neighborhood” from “friggin Black hoodlums.”

And in his mind, he did so by fatally shooting Thomas as he attended a party on the same block.

Judging from Copley’s comments, we can assume that fear, loathing and some sick drive to prove something to himself motivated him to make the decision he made. Honestly, as a mother, one of the worst scenes to watch after a tragedy like this is the grief experienced by the victim’s family. You watch them attempt to understand how in an instant their loved one — someone who had their entire life ahead of them — is now reduced to a memory.

The loss of Kouren Thomas is felt by all Black mothers, especially those of us who have sons. We see Kouren in our own children. We empathize with those who have lost their sons, because we know that the painful phone call Simone Thomas received could have came to us.

The truth is it still can.

During a press conference following Thomas’ death, Simone detailed every piece of clothing he wore the night he was killed. She knew how he wore each garment, all the way down to the way his pants were tucked into his shoes. The grief-stricken mother spoke of his favorite color and how good of a kid he was. It was as if she was trying to explain something that she felt needed to be explained. She had to convince the world that her baby wasn’t who Copley accused him of being.

I imagine my son as he continues to grow up in a world that no matter how smart, how well spoken, how well dressed and mannerable he will be, someone could possibly see him and his friends as a threat. Regardless of how educated he is, or how accomplished his parents are, some people will only see him as a “Black hoodlum” “thug” or (insert whatever unfavorable adjective used to describe young Black men).

The nightmare that is plaguing the Thomas family could be my own. The nightmare that plagues Mike Brown’s family could be my own. The nightmare that plagues Tamir Rice’s family, Trayvon Martin’s family, Alton Sterling’s family and Philando Castile’s family, disturbingly, could be my own. My son could be a hashtag too. The son who always asks his mother how her day was, and never forgets to hug her when he leaves the house.

My son, my baby, could be dead.

This harsh reality speaks volumes. Black men who have fought and died in every war, invented and created scientific, musical, and visual masterpieces and laid the foundation for the country are still treated as second-class citizens society. Black men are glorious — even when there appears to be no hope for their way of life. Black men are the sons of mothers who had the greatest hope for their sons. They are sons of women who look into the eyes of their children and tell them that they can be anything they want to be. But deep down within our bodies, we fear for the unknown and wonder, “How many more young Black men are going to be taken away from us due to violence?”

Kouren could have been our baby, and we, Black mothers, stand with the Thomas family. We, as Black mothers seek justice for his death, and we hope that one day a group of young Black males at a party will not be mistaken for “gangstas.” We hope that one day, the fear that fuels hateful actions like Thomas’ death is just a memory of a painful time, and not a present day reality.

Laura Miller is the founder of The SistaGurl Blog at www.thesistagurl.com which she uses to empower women to be their true selves; Confident, Strong, Honest, and most of all POWERFUL.  She is an Official Media Correspondent of The Six Brown Chicks and continues to utilize her empathetic nature as a tool to help and inspire the masses.