I bought a black baby doll today.

I bought a black baby doll because I didn’t know what else to do, but I knew I had to do something. I am raising four gorgeous, intelligent, smart boys.

Four white boys. In a middle class neighborhood, in a dominantly white school district, with white neighbors, white classmates, and from what I have seen, white teachers. My boys will grow up with the privilege that comes along with all of those things, and I would be lying if I said there isn’t part of me that is relieved. Relieved that there are some hurdles my boys will likely never have to face.

They will grow up in a neighborhood, a city, a state, and a country, that doesn’t assume they are a threat. The will be described as rambunctious, spirited, and lively, rather than thuggish, aggressive, and scary.

And again, I am so grateful.

But I am also so sad.

I am sad for the conversations mothers must have with their black boys. For the implicit threats they must make their children aware of. For the prejudice they must teach their boys to respond appropriately to.

I’m sad, and I’m worried that there is nothing that can be done to make it better. There is no grand gesture that can be made which will make an eternal difference in the race discussions occurring today.

So today, I put aside the grand gestures, and I put aside the worry.

I simply put a little black baby doll in my cart. Because maybe it isn’t about grand gestures, but about starting these discussions at home. Because almost every doll, book, and figurine we have is white. Because I can’t verbalize the importance of respect, inclusivity, and understanding, when they have no frame of reference.

This black baby doll was my promise to myself, to actively seek to raise boys who are aware, and respectful of the differences in others, rather than threatened by them. And my promise to all the mommas of those precious black baby boys, that I will do my best not to stick my head in the sand and pretend everything is OK. My promise that I will prioritize your children’s quality of life over my fear, and comfort.

We have to start somewhere, and today it starts with me.

Kathryn Ryder

Hello! I'm Katie, I was born and raised in the Midwest and I'm still trying to learn to love the winters. I'm a tried and true boy mom, with four little men, ages 5, 3, 3, and 1. Since 2010, I have had 4 months when I was not pregnant, or nursing, or both. I'm having to actively search out myself again, and learn how to nurture my soul. I am a wannabe runner. I am an accidental writer, an experimental cook, and I'm learning to be a truth teller. I survive on a whole lot of coffee, friendship, little boy bear hugs and sloppy kisses, and about three hours of sleep a night.