I Am Just a White Mom
I am just a white mom.
This is what goes through my head as I think about the recent race-centered wounds in our country.
I am just a white mom. I’m scared to even write about this.
I feel inadequate and not strong enough. What can I do? I don’t have the soul strength to “lift” the load of the ills of the world. Truth be told, I quit watching the news years ago, to protect my heart from the daily onslaught of depressing stories I could do nothing about. Any news I take in now is through social media — articles read, and videos watched, after the fact.
Some days, I feel fragile just dealing with the events of the day in our own home, much less outside these walls.
So, sometimes I read about events like what has happened in Ferguson… so far from me… geographically, ethnically, sociologically… and I don’t know what I can do.
I am just a white mom.
But I talk with my 10- and 12- year old sons. I tell them what has happened. I don’t even know all the facts… no one does. But I try to keep it to the facts… the things that are absolutely known.
I am just a white mom. I feel ill-equipped for this.
And then today I read about Eric Garner. I watch the video, and my heart feels like it’s breaking.
I am just a white mom. What in the world can I do to stop this? What can I do to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted and make any measure of difference in such a horrible situation?
And we talk some more. My voice cracks. I don’t know what to say, but I just start talking. They need to know about major events like this. They need to interact with the real world on things that matter.
My ten-year-old asks about a black friend back home in Texas… was his life this way?
I tell them no, that what their homeschooled black friends in Texas experience each day isn’t typical of what young black men in America often experience in their growing up years. I tell them about fatherlessness, about gangs, jail rates, about grandmas raising grandsons, and thugs as community role models. About young men and women doing the best they can, figuring out their way in a world that often feels like it’s against them.
Lecrae comes to mind (both the boys love his music), and we talk about why he targets young black men with his rhymes…
We talk about hoodies, and the urgent warnings I would have already spoken to each of them if I was a black, instead of a white, mom. We talk about the assumptions that are not made about them, as white boys, that would almost certainly be made about them if their skin was simply a different shade.
I am just a white mom. Help me, Lord– I’m afraid I’ll screw this up.
We keep talking.
We talk about how sin begets sin, how it’s not easy to get oneself out of the only life you’ve ever known, how systemic issues don’t excuse sin, and yet… how just like a boy growing up in an ultra-rich home needs to understand his privilege, and recognize that most people don’t grow up like him, we need to recognize that there are things we’ve benefitted from– a godly heritage; Christian, intact marriages; white skin that makes policemen friendly protectors rather than someone to be nervous around– that we had nothing to do with… we have to be honest.
We don’t condone sin, and yet… God help us, we are to love those who are poor in spirit, and mourn with those who are mourning. We can’t walk around with our heads in the sand and act as if our experience is what everyone else’s experience is, too.
I am just a white mom. What if I say the wrong thing?
My 12-year-old is somber, staring off in the distance for a minute.
“What?,” I ask.
“I was just thinking… what if black was white and white was black and I was him and he was me? What would I want people to do?”
And that’s when I realize…
I am a white mom. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
I can talk with my children. We can change hearts, over time. We can open our eyes and, from our hearts, love all people as ourselves. We can cause our children to think to treat others the way we would want to be treated. THAT is the one of the most Christ-like things we can do.
I am a white mom, and my role is not inadequate or unimportant. I might say the wrong thing; we might not get everything right. But I am not “just” a white mom.
As a white mom, I might just change the world, one heart at a time.
Image courtesy of Andy Newson/freedigitalphotos.net
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