Dear white moms,
You are my friends. You are my sisters.
We are the same in more ways than we are different, but there are a few things that I need you to know.
I have three black boys. They are the sweetest and most amazing humans I’ve ever met. They are incredibly intelligent, creative, artistic, caring, thoughtful, compassionate, friendly, and respectful. These aren’t just the characteristics of my three black boys, but of black boys all over America.
My heart aches when I think of anyone not being kind to my children. I so desperately want them to be treated fairly, and to be able to live their normal lives in peace. I want them to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. I want them to reach every single dream they have and to live safe lives where no one tries to bring harm to them because of the color of their skin.
I need your help.
I so desperately need you to have conversations with your children about racism.
Racism isn’t always blatantly expressed. It can be very passive and subtle through messages conveyed in our culture. These types of messages have been communicated throughout our entire lives, with their true intent often going unnoticed.
As parents, you can completely change this through intentional conversations.
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You see . . . I grew up in a predominately white area and attended a small conservative Christian School. The amount of racism and ignorance I dealt with from white privileged children was tremendous. I learned to be very passive in my friendships, and to not make anyone feel uncomfortable. As my peers spoke, I could hear their parents’ voices loudly above their own. I could hear the messages from dining room tables and living rooms, and could see values that were being passed down. They hadn’t interacted with other black children; I was the one and only real friend they ever had.
I was called horrible names; no one was allowed to date me. This was not because they didn’t like me, but because of their parents saying “NO.” I wasn’t even allowed in one of my close friend’s house until her parents felt I was “safe.” My stories could go on and on.
I grew up not seeing many black actors in TV or movies unless they were supporting roles or slave movies. The only black people I saw on the news were associated with reports that dehumanized and villainized.
I grew up in a generation that has still remained pretty racially separated. We can’t afford to hand that down to our kids.
So please . . .
Talk to them about racism.
I hate the conversations I have to have with my boys about it. They are extremely heartbreaking. It’s difficult to explain to them the reasons some people won’t like them, think they are scary, or even try to harm them because of the color of their skin.
Please, talk to your kids so together we can make the world better for all of our children.
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Teach them to stand up to injustice whenever they see it. Teach them compassion, kindness, and love. Teach them not to passively ignore or avoid the trials of others, but to always stand up for what is right. Teach them the TRUTH and don’t sugar coat it or encourage your kids to be color blind. “Color Blind” creates passivity.
Watch what you say and what they hear. Be careful watching shows in your home that vocalize harmful comments about racial differences, economic status…or even racially harmful political commentary. I need you to listen carefully for those messages. Make sure you aren’t supporting them in conversation or in things you allow around your children. I need you to be careful of how you speak about minorities, making sure you are valuing them the way you value your white counterparts.
Your children need to hear that you enjoy shows that feature black characters and movie actors. They need to hear that you listen to music with artists that look different than you (more than just hip-hop), and that you read books by black authors.
Your kids need to have positive minority experiences in their own homes and churches. It is important they see that you are intentionally building friendships with minorities and regularly have them in your home. Look to befriend black moms. If you wouldn’t say it to a white friend, don’t say it to a black friend. Simply treat them the same. Your kids will do this as they see you model that behavior.
All of these things will shape and develop your children’s world-views. These intentional acts will change how they view entire groups of people because interaction with different people will be intertwined in their lives. Your children will see them as their peers and appreciate all of their many similarities while embracing their differences.
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We are the same as mothers. We don’t want our kids to be bullied. We want them to live successful lives. We want people to give them grace, and love. We want them to make great decisions. We want people to be kind to our kids. We want to protect them. We want their childhoods to be magical, and to set them up for the best lives possible.
Your children are part of the hope I have for the world to change.
Your children are the next generation and the children my boys will grow up with. If you can model inclusive attitudes, and ideas that one race is no better than another, then you will raise kind-hearted children. They won’t automatically label any kids as “threats,” “incompetent,” or “thugs” just because of the color of their skin.
The hope is when they see my kids, they will see their hearts, amazing personalities, and make judgments in a fair way…after getting to know them.
People always ask me how I instill confidence with all this negativity that comes at them . . . Jesus. They love Jesus. We love Jesus, and His word is our truth above anything the world says. Their hope is in the Lord. Our hope is in the Lord, and I pray this post will encourage you to make a difference in your children’s lives, in our children’s lives, and in this next generation so the world will truly be a better place.
If you see one of my sons at night with a hoodie on . . . he is probably cold. Don’t act fearful. Smile at them when you see them at the store. Say “Hello.” When they come to your home, welcome them with love, and no awkwardness or weird questions. Just treat them the same as you would any other children in your home. Judge them on their character, not on their looks. Always assume the best, not the worst. Shower them with kindness and love.
And you will truly make the world a much better place.
Originally published on the author’s blog