For Mothers Raising Black Sons
I was hoping for a girl, when the nurse said otherwise. During the 12 weeks leading up to our doctor’s appointment I secretly thought we might become that perfect nuclear family, complete with a boy for my husband and a girl for me. God had other plans.
It’s a boy, she said, adding a little salt to my open wound.
Immediately I went into a brief period of mourning while my husband grinned like the Cheshire Cat and proudly poked his chest out.
“Maybe she made a mistake,” I thought. I had big plans for my presumed unborn daughter. We were gonna get mani pedis and hang out at the mall.
But sonograms don’t lie and soon I would be a mother raising not one boy but two. I wasn’t ready. This is primarily because my first son duped me into believing motherhood was a cinch.
His was a textbook pregnancy and birth: everything went according to plan and only got better. He had a laid back temperament, slept through the night, nursed with ease, and cried very little. Consequently, I assumed I had mommydom down pat – until the birth of my second son 19 months later.
He, on the other hand, rewrote my motherhood script from day one. Everything was different: the pregnancy, labor, and life itself. And for the next few years I fumbled around in a fog trying to turn on the lights unsuccessfully.
From boogers on walls, to poop on floors, and dirt on everything, I got schooled. It didn’t take long for me to realize motherhood was gonna be tougher than I thought. In fact it’s been a nonstop bench press: conditioning my patience, forgiveness, sanity and overall stamina. I find myself continually adjusting to various bodily fluids and odors, homework assignments, organized sports, never done cleaning, and Minecraft.
There is, however, one other aspect of being a boy mom that I am finding it difficult to adjust to. Inadvertently, I somehow forgot that I wasn’t just a mother of boys; I was a member of the sometimes forgotten MOBB (Mothers of Black Boys) Society. Given my brown skin, this should have been obvious but I honestly didn’t think about it until my oldest son had a Kindergarten history lesson on Martin Luther King.
It was then that I was reminded of the mammoth difference between me and other boy moms: my skin. Though he was only four years old at the time I began to contemplate the need to have the race talk. This is the one where you tell your kids they are black.
And without any type of warning I developed a serious case of anxiety; even my questions had questions.
Did my son know he was black?
Did he care?
How did the teacher explain racism?
Had the other children noticed the difference in skin color first?
What if they said something to him?
If they did would he have known what they were talking about?
I admit, I was a little hyper-sensitive, but the weight of raising black males hit me like a MacTruck. The reality that my grandfather, father, and husband all experienced some form of racism reminded me it was highly likely that my sons would too.
Even if my kids excelled academically, spoke two languages, played lacrosse and fenced, attended private school, and wore pants that fit (with a belt), there was a strong possibility they would still be judged by “the color of their skin rather than the content of their character”.
This was before the Black Lives Matter Movement, hashtags. and protest. Before the recent deaths, endless tears, and broken dreams. This was when life seemed simpler; this was January 2012.
Then in February, Trayvon Martin was killed and suddenly I was reminded all over again about my sons and their brown skin. All the anxiety I had successfully defeated came back with a vengeance. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t my son, or that it didn’t happen in my state: it mattered that he was brown and so were my boys.
It could happen to them too.
It could happen to us: the women of the MOBB Society. This is what makes our brand of motherhood unique. It is not that our desires for our sons are any different than other mothers; they are the same.
We want to see them become men.
More specifically, I hope one day they will become fathers who perpetuate a godly legacy. What separates us, the MOBB Society women, from other mothers is that our desires are often assaulted by the realities of this world: forcing us to entertain the unthinkable.
And now here we are 5 years later on the eve of Mother’s Day and our nation is faced with the death of Jordan Edwards. Life feels hauntingly familiar: characterized by an eerie and inescapable sadness.
The only place I find solace is on my knees. Here, in my most vulnerable state I cried out to God. And whereas there has been no audible response, I have been reminded of 3 truths we can all hold onto.
# 1 A Spirit of Fear Does Not Come From God
A spirit of fear is oppressive and dominating in nature. It overrides courage in a way that drastically alters one’s behavior. 2 Timothy 1: 7 (NLT) reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
If God has not given us a spirit of fear then who? Life crippling fear comes from Satan. In John 10: 10a (NIV) it says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”.
The second half of that scripture tells us why Christ came, “ I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b (NIV) Where we have been robbed by fear and left trembling on the side of the road God makes us brave. Through His word we can defeat the power of fear in our lives.
# 2 God is not aloof.
Racism exist because of sin’s entrance into this world – and God hates it. This sin is just another tool used by Satan to draw mankind away from God.
Which may cause you to question why God doesn’t just come down and put an end to it? This seems like a rational question to ask, but our finite mind cannot understand the sovereignty of God. We can’t even begin to fathom how He might use pain and suffering to turn the hearts of his children to Him.
The challenge is trusting that He is actually in control, has a plan, and will right every wrong. I believe He will because the Bible tells us
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6: 7 – 9 (NIV)
God alone is aware of every person’s unspoken thoughts and motives. If there is sin in any man’s heart God knows it. Although we can, and should speak out about injustice, we must trust that God will ultimately judge the actions of every individual.
# 3 Though Times Are Uncertain God is Unchanging
The last 5 years have proven to be one to the most uncertain periods in our history. Death, protest, and riots characterize our “one nation under God”. We appear to be on a downward spiral: morphing closer to total upheaval.
We can, however, take heart because although our world changes, God never will. If you are a mother raising a black son put your faith in the One who can alleviate all anxiety. In spite of uncertain times let’s choose to love our children deeply, live courageously and trust God to take care of the rest.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46: 1 (NIV)