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
8 thoughts on “I Am Just a White Mom”
Amen! And you are right, there is always something we can do!
Amen. I’ve felt the same way thru all this. Thanks for the encouragement to do what we CAN do…teach our kids how to love.
But you are not ‘just a white mom’, and dare I say it, one big problem is when people do define themselves (and others) in such ways. Your response is not shallow, it is not simplistic, it is heartfelt, honest and brings a Biblical perspective to the situation. As you may know, my eldest two sons are six months apart to the day, one black one white. They are like twins, closer than many brothers – and I remember thinking about this, when Nelson Mandela died last year, that there is a hope for a better future. I look at my sons (yes, who probably fall into the same category as your childrens’ ‘black homeschooled Texan friends’) and see that there can be redemption, restoration, hope and forgiveness. ‘Black history’ makes me sad – because there is so little written about the glorious kingdoms of Africa, but a domination of slavery, oppression, underprivilege, crime, persecution and prejudice. There has to be greater hope. It is good that your children are learning about these complex, painful issues, and I pray for your wisdom as you teach. But please don’t feel you cannot comment because you are ‘just a white mom’.
Just being honest, I’m not sure any post I’ve ever written has brought up the level of nervousness in my heart that this one did. It’s a topic I feel ill-equipped to weigh in on… like my words can so easily go wrong, and wound… and that is not what I want to do.
I didn’t know that about your sons.
And- jumping off of one point in your comment, I was so glad to see that the Mystery of History does bring in– as it is able– many of the ancient kingdoms of Africa. Peoples and empires I’d previously known nothing about.
Thank you for praying for me to have wisdom- I need it. I hope to keep learning and growing in this area.
Its interesting to me that you felt fear in writing this – to me it is an important, powerful post. Racial tensions affect us all, affect the whole of society. It is not as though white people simply turn the other way, or that they are somehow to blame through being white. But there is so much suspicion and I understand what you are saying about not wanting to make matters worse or cause offence. I think things are not so deep or complex in the UK (that could just be me being naive). I think its so important to teach our children as things come up. Some days I don’t even want to turn on the radio because so much of the news is shocking, frightening, painful and confusing, Yet at the same time, we are training our children so they can live and function in society, and it is not right to completely shield them from the world outside. Please keep up your blogging as it really inspires many of us!
You’re right; I imagine that my trepidation does go back to the unique blend of racial tension, cultural growth, and progression that exists here in America. I feel a need to be cautious and few with my words… I want to be helpful and never harmful… to build up and never tear down.
…and yet, even with trepidation, there are times when I can not be silent. This was one of those fire-in-the-belly moments, where I had to say it. I am glad to hear that you found it encouraging. Sometimes I’m simply trying to formulate my thoughts in a way that allows them to rest and be still. 🙂
I am definitely keeping up blogging. And I have more in the works as well; I’m so excited & grateful for the chance to encourage and challenge other Christian women through these online vehicles of blogging, online happenings, and books.
Every thing you teach those boys will be taught to their children so don’t ever feel or think you’re ‘just’ anything! You’re a Mom first and foremost and if your children teach their children (and so on….) to be tolerant and respectful of people less fortunate than themselves, that’s a hell of a legacy you’re leaving.