To white mothers,
I am asking for your help.
As parents, we all share some similar worries about our children. We want them to stay healthy, make smart decisions and be kind people.
We want them to have the opportunity to live a good life.
Right now, my children are doing well. However, this week, after seeing a video of a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, shot and killed while jogging, I am once again reminded that as a mom to three black men, I have added worries even though I have great kids.
When my boys play sports, they always look for their mom in the stands. If they aren’t playing up to their potential, I will put my thumb up, which means to turn it up a notch. As they have progressed to larger stadiums and crowds, it’s a little different, but even if they can’t find me, they always know I am there.
The night my oldest son, Malik Hooker, got drafted into the NFL, he invited his father, who was absent for much of his life. Watching my boys run around to try and find their dad a shirt and some shoes infuriated me. My children pulled me aside and told me they not only paid attention to the role I played in their lives, but they also listened to the lessons I taught them. One of those lessons was about forgiveness. At that moment, I was so moved and so proud.
When I look at my boys, I see strong, gifted, loving, educated and kind men.
The problem is when some people look at my sons, all they see is the color of their skin. Some people believe all black men are dangerous and uneducated, which in their minds, justifies potentially hurting them without cause.
My sons are athletes and regularly jog outside. Ahmaud Arbery could have easily been one of my sons.
There is a tremendous amount of fear, that simply because my children are black, that one night they won’t make it home.
Mom to mom, parent to parent, I am writing to you because you can be a part of making the world safer for my children and grandchildren.
Talk to your children about race. The younger you start these conversations, the better the world will be. Identify that we’re not all the same. Our cultures and experiences may vary. But tell your kids that being different is OK. Every race is still made up of individuals. We all must teach our children to get to know people. Let’s tell them not to make assumptions about people based on what they see on TV, hear from someone else, or read on social media. All black people are not the same. All white people are not the same. There is good and bad in every race, which is why we all must look past someone’s complexion.
Throughout history, there has not only been violence toward black people, but there has also been complacency with awful behavior. I came across an article in the Washington Times from 1908. It was titled, “Bait Alligators with Pickaninnies: Zoo Specimens Coaxed to Summer Quarters by Plump Africans.” A zookeeper sent two black children into an enclosure with 25 alligators to lure the alligators from one location to another. Besides using children as bait, also terrifying was the fact that the reporter who wrote the story didn’t criticize or condemn the zookeeper.
Even though today, we may not see situations as severe as using black children as bait, we still witness a lot of people who allow or encourage violence and racism. In Arbery’s situation, his alleged killers, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, were not charged until a video of the murder was released publicly and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case. The charges came more than two months after the February 23rd killing.
Let’s teach our children not only to do right but to stand up against wrong. Whether it’s mean words or violent acts, we all must hold each other accountable.
Black men are dying. They are getting killed – not because of what they’ve done or who they are as people. They are losing their lives because of the color of their skin.
I, a mother to three black men, don’t just worry about my sons getting the chance to live a good life. I worry about them getting the opportunity to live at all.
As moms, you and I may look different but my love for my children is just the same as yours. And one day, with your help, I hope my worries can be too.
Happy Mother’s Day!