Black moms need our non-Black allies to start conversations, sign petitions, protest, support Black-owned businesses, and vote with us in mind. And not just right now, while #BlackLivesMatter is trending, but for weeks, months and years to come. Change doesn’t happen over night, it’s a lifelong commitment.
This week’s call to show solidarity in the demand for justice for George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the need for us to do the work required to become anti-racist, had a huge number of people blacking our their squares on Instagram. But for how many did the work stop there? Talking about racism is uncomfortable, yes. As parents we have a responsibility, both to ourselves and our children, to openly address racism and to change the narrative. Racism is more than just hating someone because of their skin color — it’s in the stories we create, whether in our minds or vocally and the stereotypes we perpetuate.
“From media, to schooling, to religious teachings — racism is like a crusty heirloom, taught by stories full of assumptions and stereotypes about people based on what they look like,” says Christina Blacken, the Founder and Chief Story Strategist of The New Quo, a narrative intelligence training consultancy. “These stories are passed on as innocuous truth instead of what they really are, fear-based narratives that limit everyone’s potential and exponentially harm black and brown bodies physically and mentally because they fuel the bias and violent behaviors we are also seeing play out [in everyday life].”
People of Color in America are tired. Black parents especially. As a parent, there’s the constant worry about our children that we all carry — am I teaching them the right things? Making the right choices? Doing enough? In addition to these questions, Black parents are also asking themselves: is today the day my child is seen a threat because of their skin color? Did I teach them enough about what to do when a dangerous situation arises as a result of their skin color? How can I make them feel safe?
Below 14 mamas share their narratives and calls to action for Non-Black America
I don’t even know where to begin. So many emotions at this time it’s difficult to not cry at a moment’s notice.
I fluctuate between fear, anger and sadness. I want a normal life of pure happiness again. It’s too much between a pandemic and the killing of George Floyd. How can anyone rationalize the pure hatred and bigotry that exists in this world. To know that there are two sets of rules and laws depending on the color of your skin. To know that people can kill you because you’re Black and get away with it countless times. Our lives matter! We matter! How can we shield our children from the evils of this world? How do we protect them while all along knowing we will need to tell them the truth. We all know that one day they may be stopped and harassed by the police based purely on the color of their skin. They deserve to live full lives with every opportunity just like anyone else.
My call to action (CTA) is to hold the individuals accountable who have murdered countless Black men and women. Change the laws now. We need a no tolerance policy for abuse of power. We need to know that we are safe in our homes and when driving. We need action now. – Trarina, mother to an 8-year-old daughter
I can’t help but wonder when his cuteness will wear off and people will begin to see him as a threat.
I have a child who people stop in the street to say how cute he is. Since birth people have been gushing about how adorable my son is, however, I can’t help but wonder when his cuteness will wear off and people will begin to see him as a threat. As painful as it is to see things being destroyed around the country, I hope that it brings a true change. Our system is broken and I can only pray, hope, and work towards fixing it before my boy becomes a man.
My CTA is to challenge your biases… really think about what liberation and equality looks like to you and work to educate your family and friends. – Yasmine, mother to a 4-year-old son
If you would have told me this would be 2020, I would have laughed and dismissed you.
So far the best thing that has happened in my life — the birth of my son — also brings up so much anxiety and fear for me because of what’s happening. Besides not being able to make memories with family and friends due to COVID-19 now that he is here, I have to fear for his life forever because this world doesn’t value the life that I carried and brought into this world. I remember about 10 or so years ago I told someone I would love to have a child but probably would not have one because this world can be so cruel. That person said to me, “Don’t say that. You never know if that child may be the change this world needs.
My CTA is as much as I hear “all lives matter” — remember that when you see any non-white person. Remember that and shout it out to that corrupt policeman, trigger happy George, Central Park Karen, etc. Remember that my Black father, mother, husband, brother, and son’s lives matter! – Karen, mother to a 2-month-old son
It breaks my heart that what our grandparents went through our kids are also witnessing.
As a mother of Black son, I am angry, sad, but most of all terrified. I have prayed and cried because I want better for my son. I want my son to see and understand the power and beauty in diversity.
My CTA is we need to implement better checks and balances within the police department. So many officers have shown to have violated the rights of citizens, racially profiled and abused their power. The files documenting their abuse have been sealed from the public and swept under the rugs. We need to heal as a country. Our president could have given us the justice we had hoped for, instead he has called for Martial Law. We are hurting as a country. – Sidy, mother to an 11-month-old son
I am struggling as a mom.
I have an almost 4-year-old and a 4-month-old at home. Tonight I had to have a tough conversation with my daughter. I forget she is listening to everything and though I shield her, she hears everything. Tonight she asked “why did that cop hurt the boy?”…”I don’t like cops”. I was gutted. I had to explain on her level why some people do bad things, but that doesn’t mean we dislike everyone who is a cop. That when she gets separated from me that 911/a cop is still there to protect. We spoke about how some people don’t see mommy they only see the color of my skin. She asked me, “is the bad cop going to get me?”. I had to tell her about jail on her level — describing it like adult timeouts. She was afraid the bad cop was going to get her friend, so I had to explain that he can’t get out right now to hurt others. I don’t know if I did a good job answering her questions. I am so sad and glad at the same time that she was asking. I sat with this a lot last night before I passed out at 2am. I have very white presenting children who will walk through this world differently than I did. They will experience white privilege and they need to learn to speak out against it. I wasn’t planning on these conversations yet, but now I know the importance of them. I need to pull up and educate myself so that I can arm her and my son with the knowledge they need. My mom group has turned our Zoom catchup sessions into a book club to read White Fragility and discuss. Discuss our part as mothers and see how we can be part of the change. A dear friend who wrote to check on me from Columbus, GA has decided to do the same.
My CTA is for mothers to gather and have the tough conversations. Through our education we can educate the next generation to do better. Our kids are not too young to talk about this. Whatever you do please don’t shield your children. There is a way to protect them and arm them with knowledge. – Laura, mother to a 4-year-old daughter and 4-month-old son
Most recently, the killing of George Floyd, raised emotions I never knew existed within me.
The truth is I stay away from the news, because I fear the questions my boys may ask. Most recently, the killing of George Floyd, raised emotions I never knew existed within me. I kept the reality of it away from my boys, because I felt that would maintain their innocence. Then they heard it on the news while driving. My 8-year-old was very perplexed, whereas my 12-year-old began to question the rationale behind Floyd’s murder. At this point I feel that keeping my children locked away behind closed doors will protect them. Probably moving them back to my country of origin so they won’t have to experience being treated with scorn and hate because of their skin colour.
My CTA — I have not had the moment to truly process the tumultuous events, but we most certainly need togetherness. Supporting businesses of color, whether it by sharing their products and services, purchasing or just lifting the owners up with positive feedback and vibes. Personally, prior to these events, I began boycotting certain online businesses and choosing mom and pop shops as a way of giving back and supporting that portion of the economy. – Amicah, mother to sons ages 12 and 8
As a Black mother in America raising a Black and Hispanic child with autism, I am scared.
I am scared for my son and so many other children’s futures. With the present threat of COVID-19 and the ongoing peak of civil injustices, I feel completely defeated trying to protect and explain to my son all that’s going on. It scares me to know he is still grasping and struggling everyday with the developmental effects of ASD and at some point will have to endure systematic racism. My heart breaks for the families of those who lost their lives senselessly at the hands of those sworn to protect us. It angers me to know that these injustices have been going on for so long and we are still fighting the same fight we have been for years. There needs to be accountability and there needs to be great change.
My CTA — well that’s a hard question to answer, because there’s just so much to unpack. But first, end police brutality by weeding out the racist, power-hungry individuals, invest in more community policing and educational and mental health organizations that help youth and adults sort and alleviate traumas resulting from poverty. I think once this is implemented there will be more hope. – Erion, mother to a 5-year-old son
My heart wants to ache, but it is too heavy.
My soul cries for every mother who has lost her baby, especially at the hands of those who swore to protect life rather than take it. It’s a nonstop kind of pain that’s always there no matter what I’m doing throughout my day. It happens so often that I’ve actually made space for that specific kind of sadness now. I look at my girls and pray with all of my being that they grow up in a different world. A world that doesn’t just seem to value them on the surface, but one that values who they are at the core of their being. Human. Lovely and beautiful Black girls whose magic brings me indescribable joy everyday.
My CTA is for people around the world to educate themselves and their loved ones. A true, deep education that leaves you enlightened, changed, and committed to action. For people of color and allies, continue to fight for and pursue equality. Do not waver in your persistence. – Kelli, mother to daughters ages 6 and 4
I’m mad, sad, and disappointed.
Unfortunately what is happening is not surprising. Racism is not dead. It is the foundation in which our country was founded. I hope this brings us together as a people and helps to unite us. It’s important we hold each other close and pray for one another.
My CTA is to educate ourselves. Pray for one another. Support each other. Talk about it. Don’t pretend this isn’t happening. – Abeni, mother to a 5-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son
“Please, don’t go to jail today mommy.”
Today as I was getting in my car to go to work as a visiting home health nurse, my 7-year-old child said to me, “Please don’t go to jail today mommy.” For me, to look in her beautiful innocent face and say, “Mommy is going to work to help the sick people that can’t leave their home. Mommy will be safe, don’t worry sweetheart…I will be back. Mommy is safe.” I will not be okay until the world wakes up. My children are stressed out beyond belief. They see their mom working everyday through COVID-19, scared she will catch that, they can’t go to school, they can’t play with their friends, they can’t play on their sports team, and now they have to be afraid the police will arrest their mother. Enough is enough! I would love to have a conversation with the sheriff, the police commission, the police chief, the district attorney, and ask them what I should tell my children. How do I answer those questions?
There needs to be a way for good police officers to feel safe and supported to turn in an aggressive cop and they need to tell their partners to back down. They should be required every year to take courses on cultural sensitivity and how to de-escalate situations. Maybe they should have professional license like nurses and doctors that are renewed every 2 years. – Tracie, mother to a 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter
George Floyd’s murder has changed people’s lives on a global scale.
Black people have always been outraged whenever we hear of another Black man or woman being murdered by white cops or white men who feel they have a right to take their lives — but this one hit different. As a Black wife of a black man and mother to a Black daughter, my heart hurt because the thought of losing my family that way sickens me. My faith is what keeps me sane but living a life where your heart starts beating so fast at the thought of being pulled over or thinking about how I need to constantly remind my 3-year-old daughter and make sure she’s confident in the fact that her skin color is beautiful, she’s brilliant, and blessed because I know there will come a time that someone of the opposite race will try to tell her different. White cops who murder Black men, often have the same excuse… “I feared for my life so I fired.” Yet if you take a look at who has a pattern for killing who, the Black men would be the ones with fear. Yet Black people are expected to stay calm, obey, don’t talk back, be respectful, keep their hands where cops can see them and don’t resist… even when we can’t breathe. I don’t want my husband to be the next hashtag. I worry about the “Amy Coopers” of this world, wielding around their white privilege like a sword, looking to hurt or imprison another Black man for no reason at all. Life as a Black person in America is dangerous. It always has been… We just notice it more because of smartphones and social media.
I just pray for our country. I pray for my husband, my daughter, my future children, family and friends. Lord protect them. We need justice for our fallen brothers and sisters. We need somewhere we can call when the police need to be policed. We need change. We need to be heard. – Gabrielle, mother to 3-year-old daughter
If we all put in just half the effort used to fight COVID-19 into fighting racial injustice we wouldn’t be here, still.
My heart breaks for our men and young boys. My son, who is 5-years-old and biracial is asking questions and my only power is to tell him the truth. No matter how much it hurts me, it’s my chance at keeping him safe. Our saving grace during quarantine has been to go for long walks, but now just walking around my neighborhood feels like a protest. Being outside brings me joy and my reality is that the violence against people that look like me has taken that joy and release away from me momentarily. We are resilient but we are hurting.
Racism is within the foundation of our country. Every system needs a bias check. Prisons, schools, city planning, hiring processes, law enforcement, healthcare, retail marketing, etc. – Shazmin, mother to a 5-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter
My girls are ages 12 and 14 and are able to voice their feelings and thoughts about what is going on.
They are able to recognize racism and discrimination and they feel worried and scared for our world. I think I try to listen, teach, and validate their fears and concerns as best I can. My hope is that no one stays silent when they see something wrong and unjust. And that people vote so we can have a competent leader who is also compassionate and does not promote division among people. – Maureen, mother to daughters ages 14 and 12
My desire to have my sons return home safely every day clearly outweighs the hope that my business is spared from vandalism and looting.
Even though I have been with my kids more than I could have ever dreamed for the past 82 days (a small virus-related blessing), I find myself wanting my three little sons even closer to me throughout the days as I cope with the injustice and the brazen disregard for life. So, I do. I keep them close, and I shower them with love, and I remain hopeful. I’m an entrepreneur, with retail level businesses in locations vulnerable to looting, but I am in support of the cause and the acts of protest that are necessary to draw attention to the issues. My desire to have my sons return home safely every day clearly outweighs the hope that my business is spared from vandalism and looting. Many non-Black entrepreneurs are feeling this deep level of uncertainty for the safety of their property for the first time.
I’d like to see true allyship from parents of young children, so they can teach through their actions, not just through a handful of encounters or conversations that happen when a significant civil rights violation occurs. Parents must be active, visible and vocal allies at home, behind closed doors, on a consistent basis. The type of change we need requires a real investment in creating a generation that is comfortable, vocal and steadfast in their moral belief that the injustice and inequality cannot continue on. This starts at home. – Liz, mother to sons, ages 3 and 9-month-old twins
Anti-Racism work absolutely does start at home
Part of the work requires that we begin reflecting and honestly looking at the biases we all hold, both the ones we’re aware of and those we aren’t. A good place to start is with the idea of “not seeing color.” While this practice is seemingly a way to spread love, it does the opposite because it denies the existence and lived experiences of people of color.
“It is pandering to the idea that we should all just see each other as people, without the hard work of truly accepting and tolerating difference,” shares Blacken. The goal isn’t to be all the same — the goal is to love one another BECAUSE of our differences, and to celebrate those differences. An absence of acknowledging race is lazy, as it doesn’t erase a long, documented history of systemic racism built into our constitution all the way through to our presidency.”
It’s critical to self-reflect and be honest with yourself about the stereotypes and assumptions you hold regarding the Black community. Ask yourself where and how these narratives you hold were formed? True change in the face of injustice starts with you.
7 actions you can take today to support the Black Lives Matter movement
2. Donate To One Of These Causes
- Black Lives Matter
- Black Visions Collective
- Campaign Zero
- The Innocence Project
- Justice For Breonna
- I Run With Maud
- Reclaim the Block
- Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- American Civil Liberties Union
- National Bail Fund Network or Local bail funds across the US
- National Police Accountability Project
- Know Your Rights Camp
3. Sign These Petitions
- #JusticeforBre: Demand the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor are fired
- Justice for Breonna Taylor
- #JusticeforAhmaud: Demand the immediate removal of the District Attorneys who failed to bring justice for Ahmaud
- Demand Mayor Jacob Frey #DefundtheMPD
- Oust Lt. Bob Kroll from MN Police Union
- Add your name to Color of Change’s list of systemic demands to end the war on Black people
- Sign the NAACP Petition #WeAreDoneDying demanding police reform
4. Lend Your Voice To One Of The Protests
5. Learn What The Call To Defund The Police Means
6. Support Black Businesses
7. Do The Work Required To Be Anti-Racist
Ravelle Worthington is a wife, momma of three, and the founder of Mommy Brain. Follow her on Instagram here.
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