Dear Moms Raising Black Sons,
I’m a white mom raising a white son. I worry about him constantly. Because that’s what Moms do. I think about his safety, his health, and his happiness on repeat all day every day. Just like you.
All Moms worry. Well, good ones anyways. It’s one of the things no one really tells you about Motherhood: how much you’ll worry.
(Spoiler alert: A LOT.)
My son is young, so my worries for him now are about whether I make him feel loved enough, keeping him healthy, raising him to be kind & confident, and keeping him safe. The same worries every Mother has for her child.
As he gets older, I’ll worry about my son falling in with the wrong group of friends. Or getting made fun of or bullied. Or trying something he shouldn’t. I’ll worry about him being careless with his life.
In those ways, as Mothers, all our worries are the same.
But in other ways, they couldn’t be more different.
My worries for my white son will be the same as some of your worries for your black son.
But where my worries end, a terrifying set of worries begins for Moms raising black sons.
Worries I can’t imagine. Because I won’t have to.
Worries you shouldn’t have to imagine. But you can imagine them simply because you can’t afford not to when your son’s life is at stake.
When my son is 12 or 13 and leaves to go ride bikes with his friends, I’ll say, “Be careful.” And I’ll mean it. I’ll tell him that because cars might be going too fast and not paying attention. Or because if he falls he might hit his head. Or maybe because it will be getting dark out soon.
I’ll be thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Anticipating them before they happen.
I’ll be being a Mom.
What I won’t be doing is worrying about someone being suspicious of my son riding his bike just because he’s a white boy. I won’t worry about some resident calling the cops because they think he’s up to no good—for absolutely no reason. I won’t worry about my son getting followed by the police because a white kid stole a candy bar from a gas station & he “fits the description” just by being a white male.
But you will.
You’re a mom raising a black son, so you will be worrying about every single one of those things.
Because you know stuff like that happens. You know it happens because you’ve seen it happen. You’ve felt it happen. You’ve had it happen. To you. Or to yours.
When my son is 17 and goes to a party, I will be a mess. Worried sick. Worried that he will get in the car with someone who has been drinking. Or that he’ll be hit by a drunk driver. That he will try drugs. Worried that he will be in a freak accident.
I will warn him to be smart and not drink or try anything. I will warn him not to get in the car with anyone. I’ll warn him to drive carefully because there may be drunk drivers on the road. I’ll warn him that he could be pulled over. And I will warn him that the cops could come and if he gets in trouble it could stay on his record.
I’ll be worried about all those things. I’ll be worried about my son.
It’s almost too much worry to bear. And yet we have to, because that is the nature of this thing called life. And it’s definitely the nature of this thing called Motherhood.
You’ll be worried, too. About all those things. You’ll be worried about your son, just like I’ll be worried about mine.
But you’ll also be worried about other things. Things that only Moms raising black sons have to worry about.
While I’m worrying about my son getting pulled over when a cop is suspicious he has been drinking, you’ll be worrying about your son getting murdered when they ask him to step out of the car. Which sounds—and is—completely outlandish, but it happens. While I’m worrying about the party getting busted and my son getting in trouble for being there, you’ll be worrying about your son getting killed during the bust because of what he looks like. When my son gets caught doing something he shouldn’t & takes off running, I’ll be torn up about him doing something that could’ve hurt him & I’ll be worried about him getting in trouble. You’ll be torn up, too, but you’ll be worried about your son running & getting shot in the back.
Many of my worries for my white son are the same as my fellow mama’s worries for her black son. We’re both Mothers, after all. And with Motherhood comes some of the most beautiful, strong solidarity you can imagine.
But I also realize my worries for my white son are a fraction of a mama’s worries for her black son.
A Mom raising a black son carries double the load of worry & fear for her son than I have to carry for mine.
Things I will never have to think twice about with regards to my own boy will be the very things she can never stop thinking about.
I can barely handle my own worries for my children. I’m not sure I could stomach even one extra worry, much less a whole other set.
But you do that daily. For no other reason than because your son has darker skin than my son.
That’s it. Just color. It’s nothing.
It’s nothing and yet it’s everything.
How can something that’s such a nothing change everything?
Because we have let it.
Dear Moms raising Black Sons,
I see you. I’m with you. But I know I’m not you.
And because of the extra worries and fear for your child that you have to live with daily, I wouldn’t want to be.
And that tells me everything I could ever need to know about racial injustice.
Want more on Motherhood? —> Are you a SAHM? Or a Mom of young kids? Have you ever yelled at your kids?
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