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.
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.
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 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.
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 & 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.
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…they are 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.
With so much love for you,
For more articles on parenting, check out “10 Tips For Raising Respectful Kids.”
I love that you call out more than just words. Talking with our white kids is the first step, but even more important is acting and modeling respect for more than just our own race or culture, and encouraging the same for our kids. Much love to you Mama, from a white Mama who’s learning and trying.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks!!
What a beautiful family you have! You all radiate love and beauty and kindness!
I am a white mother with 3 beautiful sons, too (although older now). Wish we could be friends!
Aww I love that! thanks so much!
Wow…powerful article!!! You go girl. Thanks for being deliberate and brave for our black children, for all children. ~BLESSINGS~
Love it!! thanks!
This is such a good read, a much needed conversation to be had.
Thank You! Yes it really is!
I am so glad libraries near me have done a great job of stocking books for children featuring people of color. (can I just say how warm that phrase makes me feel? I imagine the festivals in India) One of the best ones I can remember was a picture book about a black dad helping his son get ready for bed, and all the ways the son loves his daddy, and it was so beautiful, because there aren’t nearly as many books that focus on dads and their paternal bonds with kids as there are of moms. I feel like it helped my kids feel closer to their dad, and recognize all he does for them.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about a few black fantasy authors, and I look forward to getting my hands on some copies of their books. Tomi Adeyemi’s “Children of Blood and Bone” is at the top of my list.
The positive influence of black people on this nation both historically and today is invaluable. Just look at me, a great great great granddaughter of a slave foreman, actively fighting the biases passed down to me. That’s not a result of my family being wiser than others. It’s because of the hard work of brave black Americans, and their allies, fighting for equal rights, and truthfully the rights of all Americans. They got the message out, reintroducing the tenets of earlier passive resistors, organized peaceful protests in the face of severe abuse, they broke barriers and even the law in favor of what is right… we don’t sing their praises enough for lifting this country up closer to her noblest ideals.
That’s the kind of brave America I want my kids to learn about. There is no shortage of stories to tell.
Yes, there are so many. Thanks for sharing!
Though our town has little diversity I have always told my kids to be kind to all people. To not stand for people being mean to others because they are different in any way. My kids know that we all bleed red. I love being the change and breaking any prejudices my family has tried to hand down. Great article. I was kind of mad when I saw the title to be honest but it also made me read it.
Love the post, I don’t have children at this time, but I am a Black American descendant of US slavery. I just would like to say that I think the economic status of Black Americans could also be discussed. Structural racism is important. I don’t know if I care so much about if someone likes my kids or understands them, I feel that they should feel that home, but that’s my opinion. My main point is that we should at perhaps older ages discuss the reason why Blacks own 2% of the wealth in the country, or why what little wealth we have is set to be decimated by 2053. I know these are heavier topics, but racism is a heavy subject. It’s not about liking folks in my opinion but educating everyone about how pernicious the system truly is.
Yes, there are so many topics that can discussed and brought up, and we all have different concerns. Thanks so much for sharing!
Karen M. Ricks
Yes! We as parents must be aware and intentional in the conversations we have, in the behaviors we display, and in the examples that we set for other adults as well as for all of our children. Thank you for this impassioned plea for us all!!!
You are more than welcome! thanks for reading!
Hey, I agree with you all here. Racism just causes my heart to ache. I’m a white girl, but thankfully was never raised to be racist. It’s hard to understand that anyone would think that those with less melanin in their skin would be smarter, etc., etc. than those with more.
But anyway, I just wanted to let you know about Wallbuilders. Hopefully, you’re already a fan, but if you aren’t, let me enlighten you. They are an organization that focuses on setting the record straight, as far as history, the Constitution, etc., and one of their favorite topics, and mine, is racism and our Founders. I’ll try to be brief, but their founder, David Barton, is an excellent historian and devote Christian and has really dug into many of the misconceptions that surround those who – are so long dead they cannot defend themselves!
In fact, a great hero for your boys, and ALL boys and girls, is Benjamin Banneker. He was a contemporary of our Founders, and both Washington and Jefferson greatly admired him. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, whom so many people consider a rake (fiction, by the way), said that Banneker was a brilliant man, and for all he (Jefferson) knew, all blacks would be smarter than whites, if they were allowed an education! Anyway, look up Wallbuilders and David Barton, and see for yourself. They have information on lots of little-known heroes for our boys and girls to respect.
Oh, and by the way, one of my 5 year old nephew’s favorite historical heroes is George Washington Carver. Carver is one of the first historical figures he learned about. And my nephew doesn’t care about what color Carver’s skin was, he just thinks that Carver is cool because he invented peanut butter!:)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t quickly track down that quote from Jefferson, but here is a link to a bit about Banneker:
Thanks so much and thanks for the info!
My daughter shared your letter on FB. She and her sister are black, her mom and I white. Though they have been our girls for all but the first 9 months of their lives, there is much we don’t understand about their growing up years. Your letter is illuminating. Thank you!
Regarding racism in America, I wonder if government (at almost every level) helps to perpetuate it by requiring we label ourselves by our race or cultural heritage. Our daughters had been in our family about 2 years when the 2000 census took place. I took offense when I was supposed to label myself, my wife and sons one way but our girls another way. Instead, I rebelled by checking “Other” and adding the word “American” on the line for additional information. Needless to say, the census bureau called and fess up that several of us were Caucasian and the girls African American.
Thanks, again, for sharing. I can only say Amen!
Aww thanks for sharing your experience! I appreciate that! Sounds like your doing a great job! Thanks for reading too!
Such an eye opener! Thanks for sharing. I am truly sorry that your family has to go through that. I am a world citizen and I hope my kids become tolerant and nonjudgmental people. School kids can be specially harsh, and we need to teach our kids to always do the right thing. schools should be involved in that too and not just parents. My school accepted children with disabilities, we had a child with down syndrome and a blind child in our classroom. What a beautiful experience that was. How many schools separate kids based on religion, disabilities, wealth? it is engrained in the system. I haven’t grown up with labels. My country (Spain) doesn’t ask me to label myself or my kids, nor in colour, ethnic background or religion and I hope it stays that way. The first time I was asked to define myself (in the UK) I didn’t know what to say. Am I white? Somebody pointed out that I have olive skin. Really? I never thought about it. Am I Caucasian? Why did they want to know that anyway? Why does it matter? In Spain people compliment you when your skin is tan. The darker the better!!!
Let’s celebrate diversity!
I wish you and your kids all the best!
It looks like we could learn a lot from there! thanks for sharing!
You are so right on so many levels! You were my only black friend. I remember coming to your house one time and you were getting your hair done, and I had no idea that it took some time:)
We all had no idea! I don’t mean that as a cop out; we are all responsible for any time we made you feel different or left out.
But just know that you are a game changer.
My family recently got to babysit two sweet little boys for about 6 months and their mom had to show this white girl how to do their hair:)
I am dialoging with my kids, and striving that they not be as ignorant as I was. I don’t always know exactly what to tell them because many people have different opinions, so your post is very helpful!
Thanks and thanks for being gracious to us BCSers:)
Aww you are definitely not one of the ones that made me feel that way at all! I’m so glad you are teaching your kids that way as well! So good to hear from you! You were a great friend in those years!
Thank you so much for sharing your point of view! We have so much in common, I too have all boys (four) for one. Thank you for viewing me (a white mother) as your contemporary, I view you the same. Thank you for addressing me with love in your heart, despite all the hate you have had to endure. And most importantly thank you for reminding me to continue to address racism when I see and to remind my boys that is not behavior we tolerate. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home that also did not tolerate it, so it’s not hard for me to teach that. I have however seen how difficult it can be for some of my friends to unlearn the things they learned growing up. I look forward to following your blog now that I have found it!
Thank you again,
Thanks so much! I appreciate that, and thanks for being a light!
Jehava, thank you so much for sharing this with us! It’s such an important reminder to white parents that we need to sit down with our children and discuss racism in America. Color blindness used to be in fashion, but it helps no one, as you said. I plan to share this with my readers.
For sure! Thanks for reading!
I just want to say I just read this post with tears in my eyes. I have a 4 & 3 year old little boys and a 19 month old daughter. The the things they already have to experience at such a young age would blow some people’s mind. I am biracial (black and white) was adopted as a newborn with both parents being white, so growing into my own was an experience in itself. My husband is black so our three of our kids are beautiful in their own way but each look very different. Skin talks and the way others/we look is a constant discussion in our household.
The world is a very scary place and as a parent you want to hold your children as close as possible, but on the other hand you want to let them go so they can discover who they are as an individual.
Thank you for this. It really encourages me to want to share some of my stories 🙂
Aww thanks for reading! I’m so glad you liked it! Prayers for your beautiful family!
Jehava, thank you for this post. I’m a white mom with a white husband and son, and we absolutely want to make a difference in some way when it comes to racism. Our son goes to a very diverse school, thankfully, and has a friend from church who is black. I’ve struggled with knowing what to say and not say, but I also don’t want to perpetuate color-blindness. Thank you for your suggestions on ways we can discuss race and how to show him we value other races in terms of tv, music, etc. I’m going to pray for guidance that God will show me specifically what to say and do in our particular sphere. Thank you again!
Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m a teacher (middle school- I know crazy, but I enjoy that 12-14 age).
I’m white and I grew up in a Predominantly white and Hispanic area. I have lived And worked abroad for several years, but in countries with a white or Latin racial makeup. Having many black students in my classroom was an opportunity for me to learn and listen.
My first year teaching I spent more time with African-Americans- teens/kids, specifically-than ever in my life. We had great conversations and times together.
Imagine my grief and shame when a summer after my second year teaching, I walked into a fast food restaurant and saw a group of Black men and I instantly felt nervous and afraid. For NO REASON. They were just joking and ordering food. Having a meal.
I realized that moment I had a real problem. These were just like MY students that I loved and spent hours with…grown up into adult men. I had to ask and think about how and why did I feel afraid of black men without cause. What racist messages had I internalized?
Anyway, I’ve been teaching for over ten years now and I’m still learning, but I just wanted to tell you my story of realization about myself and my commitment to learn and grow.
My students and I recently watched the Ted Talk by Clint Black “How To Raise a Black Son in America” as a good discussion starter.
Sister Jehava, I don’t know you personally but I hear you! Some of these conversations are ones I’ve already had with my kids and will definitely add more. As a single parent we are already in a different, often judged demographic so I’m not wanting to be a hater. I have very different convo’s with my kids than most. And not to make it about me at all, but I genuinely hope for better, starting in all families homes!
God Bless you and yours!
Wow! What a beautiful post. I could feel the pain and love in your words. Let me first say, In our home we choose to follow Jesus and show the same compassion and love to every brother and sister we are blessed enough to cross paths with. Secondly, I like so many from my generation, grew up in a small white community, it’s what I knew,its all I knew until I went to college. My first experience with black men were came from college football players in the locker room as I attended to the injuries, pains, taped ankles knees and all that comes with that sport. It was load, they were outspoken and loved to give this white girl as much crap as they could. The best times of my life were learning community from those young men. Later, during cosmetology school I met my best friend, we could not be more different if we tried,but, man that’s my ride or die. She is also a strong black woman raising 5 beautiful black children with a man who seems to be part time at best. But, despite the struggles she has faced over the 6/7 years, she is raising 3 outstanding young men and 2 beautiful queens. I dont know how she managed to want to keep my ignorant butt around,but, thankful she chose to. I have seen, been part of, witnessed and learned SO many things about the black community( we are in Tulsa, one of the most segregated cities in the country so I’m not using white/black as a negative or trying to offend just to help express my situation) . I have learned about shampooing hair, sew ins, sunscreen, and my kids are part of that family and the same for hers. With recent events we have all had some very real conversations about what going on, and how to be part of the change in our communities. The BLM movement has to start at home. I pray for safety, love and peace for your beautiful family. and know that, as small as it may seem, there are so many more out there that see you, hear you, love you and STAND WITH YOU! Thank you for sharing you post with us.
I love this and truly appreciate your honest advice! I want to do my part to help!
Thank you for this! I’m trying to teach my son that there are people who are many different races but no one is better than anyone else. He just turned 3, though so I’m not really how to talk so he can understand.
Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your true wishes for your family and our world. Your words speak so true – that you as a mother want what ALL OF US mothers want for our children – safety. joy, the ability to reach their dreams.
I cried as I read this, similarly as I have done in the past when I hear African American mothers talk about their sons. It is part empathy, part deep sadness that our society treats Black boys so badly, and part guilt that my own White children don’y have to experience that treatment and therefore I don’t worry in that way.
I hear your pain and your hope. It is so important for us White people to hear both.
I am often inspired by the resilience, strength and positivity I see in many African Americans. It gives me hope. But we Whites need to hear the pain as well, pain that we have a part in, pain that we can also help to end by changing our practices in our homes and communities, as well as advocating for equitable policies.
I am trying to do both and I will keep trying everyday for the rest of my life.
Thank you for bringing your brightness to the world!
Stay safe and be well.
I appreciate this!
I appreciate the love and sensitivity that saturates your writing as you deal with such a volatile issue. It was when I married a not-white man that I began to become aware of how subtle racism can be – in me and in others. When my daughter’s friend asks who THAT MAN driving our car is and when police cars slow down if my husband is doing yard work in our upscale, Canadian neighbourhood, these are moments when we see so clearly that we all still have a long, long way to go. You have expressed the hope that you have in Jesus – my hope is also in Him; He is the one that can change my heart and the hearts of others.
Yes for sure!