My son and I spend endless hours wandering around our neighbourhood. We say hello to Stevie the cat, we examine anthills closely, and when an organic bin is tipped over, he loves to point at it and say with absolute certainty, “Raccoon did it.”

On our way to the YMCA, we cross a local police station. My son likes walking up the ramp, looking in the window and climbing the cement benches that speckle an outdoor green space. We wave at the police and they often say hello; it’s most fun when they are on their big horsies.

While my son is still a toddler, I have told him who the police are. “The police are here to help and protect us.” Although, every time I say that out loud, I quietly think it is an oversimplified statement, one that does not apply to everyone. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s only since having my son that I have spent considerable time trying to imagine a life that isn’t white. With the recent senseless and tragic shootings of two innocent American men (Philando Castile and Alton Sterling), I am left thinking how my explanation of the police would be different if I were a black woman with a black son. How would I talk to him? How would I explain?

It’s hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes – to see what they see, to feel how they feel. I don’t know what it’s like to be black: a black woman, a black man, a black child, a queer black woman, a black single mom, a gay black man, a transgender black man. How would being black change my everyday experiences? From riding the subway to doing my groceries to sharing stories on Facebook…how would I be looked at differently? Received differently? How much harder would life be? I don’t know.

What I do know is what it’s like to be a mother constantly worrying for your child.

I have lived a very privileged life where I haven’t had to push hard to open doors. My white son has inherited my privileged world, even more so as a boy. The world was built for him, yet I am always worrying. What if, on top of bee stings and bullying, I had to worry my boy might be shot to death for no reason? What if, on top of my current anxiety, I had to worry about him being the target of racial profiling? How would I teach him to live in this world? How would our Saturday morning walk to the YMCA be different? Would we feel comfortable enough to walk through the police station? How would I describe the police to my son?

To say I understand what it’s like to be a black woman is insulting, and empathy is not enough; our world will not change with sympathy and sorrow. We all must ask, “What do we do? How can we help?” I haven’t asked this of myself enough.

It is easy to sit idle and just talk about it, but if we want our children to live in a world that doesn’t include racial profiling and hate crimes, we must think of ways to be the change.

Small steps are better than no steps, and we can all take small steps in our own lives to shift the current. Start by going here, and by listening. Black Lives Matter.