Family

A Letter To My Black Son From Your White Mother

Photo: courtesy of the author 
photo courtesy of author

My son, your heartbeat is my heartbeat, your sorrow is my sorrow and your pain is my pain.

I, like every other mama on this planet, ache with every bit of my being for you to remain the joyous and tender-hearted child that you are, guided by your soul filled with boundless love.

But this week, these months, and these years, have called me into a different reality — a reality that admittedly I, as a white mother, was partially blinded to in the past. Before I had a Black son.

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That reality is the heavy heart, the fear, and the deep pain that too many mothers with Black children are burdened with.

It is our nature as parents to desire the brightest of futures for our children, to dream of a life where they exceed all of our expectations. My son, I desire nothing more than for you to dream big and have every opportunity to achieve those dreams.

Yesterday, as we ventured through DC on our bikes as we do daily and you sing out "Ca-pit-al" in your tender 1.5-year-old voice as you point excitedly to the domed fortress atop the Hill, I wonder what that “Capital” will represent for you when you are older.

I pray it is the ideals that your grandfather and great-grandfather so valiantly fought for as Marines. They fought for these ideals for you. They didn’t know you, but they fought for you. They fought to make this world a better place for you and for me.

But, my biggest fear is that it is not a better place for you than it has been for me due to the color of your skin. We haven’t made the progress your grandfather and great-grandfather so courageously fought for.

My son, I need to be honest with you. Those American ideals of equality, justice, freedom, and liberty have not been as equally distributed as I was told growing up. You may very well be conscious of this reality in just a few short years, and for that, I am heartbroken.

My son, I will fight for you.

I will fight against any injustice and any seemingly small micro-aggressive act witnessed so that you, your father, and all men and women of color may know these values that we purport to provide for all Americans.

Your mama and your papa will fight for you every single moment of every day so that this is not your reality.

This afternoon, you reached up to Papa and said, "hug" in your little voice filled with pure love. Little did you know how much your papa needed that hug.

Like so many men and women of color and many of their allies, your papa deeply needs that innocent hug this week, the week that George Floyd was killed. It has been a heavy week, my son.

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Papa is tired. He is tired of carrying the emotional weight of racial injustice, but most of all, he is saddened that this reality could persist into the future.

I tell you, my son, the burden of this fight can no longer fall squarely upon the shoulders of your father and every other Black person.

This burden can no longer be passed down to you and future generations to complete this reconciliation we so deeply need.

It is I and my fellow white community members who must own this burden — the burden of finally ending systemic racism. It is ours as a nation, but particularly ours as white Americans.

Our lack of awareness, our ambivalence, and our silence has only furthered the emotional toll that inequality and racism have taken on our Black community. If we remain silent, we are undoubtedly complicit.

So my child, I now must turn to my fellow mamas.

Mamas, I call on you. I know that with every ounce of your being, you share these desires for your children.

Mamas, will we stand together? Will we condemn any injustice, any inequality, or any moral wrongdoing as fiercely as we protect our own offspring?

I want to believe the answer is yes, but our actions remain to be seen. Our actions will be evident in our children.

My fellow mamas, I plead with you: Teach your children about race and implicit bias.

Be an empathetic ear! When we fail to listen, we are undermining the realities lived by our peers of color and we are only furthering, rather than easing, their pain. We are discounting their realities lived.

Envision your child and ask yourself if you can fight for my child and every child of color as if they were your own.

How will you do this? Start by listening. Start by using your voice and your vote to take action. Refuse to be a complacent actor in centuries of injustices.

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I cannot imagine a higher purpose as cultivators of the next generation than to ensure that we provide all children with a better tomorrow.

Mamas, this is our world to change! 

During times of change, it's easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed but there are things we can all do today  right now  to help fight racism. Here are some ideas:

-Check out Black Lives Matter

-Join Color Of Change

-Help the National Urban League.

-Support Black-owned businesses locally and online with EatOkra and BlackWallet

-Visit the NAACP website.  

-Donate to organizations like the ACLU and the United Negro College Fund.

-Educate yourself and your family with Facing History And Ourselves.

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Ashley Ndir is a resident of Washington, DC, and writes about faith, family, and fitness. 

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