Friday afternoon I walked into the bedroom and my husband was wiping tears from his eyes after watching the video of George Floyd being murdered by the police. “I can’t concentrate on anything,” he said. We both spent most of Friday teary-eyed on and off and feeling like this is all just too much. Yesterday morning I woke up and texted three of my close black and brown friends – “We are all mothers of black boys. What are WE going to do??”
What are we going to do in the face of all of this injustice? Police brutality, disregard for our black brothers and sisters lives, inaction or inability to change our biased systems, literal lynching of our people in 2020. I don’t have the answer. All I know is how horrible this feels. Sad, frustrated, enraged, scared, powerless, tired, disappointed and mad. No one can look away from this.
The Mayor of Minneapolis, a young white man, said in an emotional statement last week that the anger over George Floyd is “not only understandable, it’s right.” The anger that is erupting all over America is from 400 years of weariness, anger, brutality and bloodshed. None of these acts of brutality on black people are new.
What Can We As Black Mother’s Do in the Face of Racial Injustice?
Raise them Up
My friend Alia on the text chain, the mother to a 21-year-old black man, started preaching. “Keep raising beautiful boys, she said. “I don’t think it’s on us – WE ALREADY HAVE ALL THE BURDEN as women of color. To love and raise black boys and girls.” The main thing we should be focusing on is raising strong, loving and beautiful humans. We have to keep loving them and protecting them. Teaching them, when appropriate and when we have the strength, about social, racial, economic injustice. Teaching them so they can speak out and teach others and continue to make change.
We, as black mothers and fathers, already carry such a heavy burden raising black children. Reminding them constantly to be quiet, don’t make a ruckus or standout when they are in public. We don’t want them to be labeled as “bad” because that’s a death knell for a black child. Wanting them to be the very best in their class, because they have to be to succeed. Black children have to be better or they will get left behind. The constant fear that when our black children leave the house that they could not come back. And how young is too young to talk to them about how to deal with the police?
It is on us to hold everything together. Focusing on raising our black children to be woke, kind, strong and keep their eyes open must be our first priority. How much more of a burden can we carry?
But we are asked by our white friends and peers, “what can I do?” There is no one answer. We have to keep educating ourselves (me included), our children, our workplaces and our community. If someone is in disbelief about what is happening, it is incumbent on us to ask them to please educate themselves. Because black people are looked to as having the answers here, we also have the burden of educating and reprogramming people that are not black about the systemic and institutionalized racism faced by black America.
The first place to start is with education. Here is a list of books about black lives to begin educating yourself on racism and the black experience in America. Read the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Then be vocal about racial injustice and white privilege – have conversations with your friends and tell them what you’ve learned. Remind white friends to buy diverse books for their children and to talk to them about social and racial inequalities (historical and present). If possible, buy these books from a small black-owned bookstore – one of my favorites is EsoWon Books. If you don’t see what you want online, call and they will surely send it to you.
There are so many worthy organizations to give your financial power to that are actively fighting for the rights of blacks and other people of color. I personally donated to The Bail Project, which works to mitigate incarceration rates through bail reform and providing bail to low-income residents. Here is an excellent list of organizations to donate to and other suggestions for ways to support the movement.
Use your voice, your financial power, your power of action. We cannot be silent.