Voices from the Heart
Black mothers share their thoughts on racism and diversity. It’s more important now than ever that families acknowledge and take action against racism in our communities. Look for more in our series on race conversations in coming issues of Atlanta Parent.
Maria Smith is a mother of four and former TV producer at “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She blogs at mamaliciousmaria.com.
I have to tell you something: Being color blind won’t stop racism. I’ve been silent too long and allowed you to avoid the topic of race. Here’s the deal: “color blindness” won’t stop racism. Here are six things to know.
Being color blind
- erases part of my identity. Being color blind invalidates my experiences. It erases part of my identity. By not seeing race, you force me to swallow my stories. The responsibility is on me to stop talking about my experiences.
- allows you to avoid dealing with race. You have the privilege to CHOOSE to ignore race. I don’t. Being “blind” makes things more palatable for those who aren’t comfortable dealing with it anyway. But it’s OK to be uncomfortable. Sit with it.
- makes me feel invisible. I feel invisible when you don’t see all of me. Denying race means underestimating the plight of being Black in America or denying it exists at all.
- means differences are bad. We’re all different, unique and special. Celebrating, not ignoring, our differences can help us get along better.
- is just a way to avoid talking about race. To erase racism, talk about it, don’t ignore it. Refusing to acknowledge race allows you to ignore the insidious manifestations of racism.
- denies racism is real and present. By not seeing race, it makes it easy to ignore the experiences people of color have to deal with each day. I wonder if we can be different, unique, but also be equal? Celebrating differences is the path toward love, understanding and the beginning of the way to stop racism.
Sojourner Marable Grimmett
Sojourner Marable Grimmett is a mom of two, External Affairs Director at National Church Residences and blogs at sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com.
I’m the proud mother of two remarkable Black children. My oldest son Roland turned 13 in June. My youngest son Joshua is 10, and both boys are friendly, kindhearted, athletic and smart.
For as long as I can remember, I have been an advocate for social justice. As a young adult in Boulder, Colorado, I advocated to dismantle a nearby nuclear facility, marched in the 2017 Women’s March, and most recently joined thousands of supporters for “Black Lives Matter” here in Atlanta.
As a community, we all have a responsibility to build a strong and accepting society in which no child has to gird himself against prejudice, hatred and mistreatment. The nation is crying for change, and I continuously reflect on how to become more of an agent of healing as we prepare for the days ahead.
Steps we can take to continue growing:
- Engage in conversations around race.
- Support local and online Black businesses.
- Learn about other cultures and work towards being advocates and allies for historically minoritized groups.
I think the best thing we can do for each other and ourselves is to come together as a community. Listening with open hearts and minds and being willing to engage in self-reflective work – even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable.
I stay prayerful for my sons and other Black boys and men. We are seeking justice, safety and peace.
Joyce Brewer is a mother, social media manager and blogs at mommytalkshow.com.
Parenting a Black child with food allergies and asthma in 2020 got even more complicated once the pandemic started and the virus overwhelmingly affected our community. Add in the Ahmad Aubrey shooting in Brunswick, George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.
Several of my white mom friends reached out to me to check and see how I was feeling and processing. They told me how unimaginable these incidents are and what it must be like to parent our son when videotapes of these crimes against Black men are trending.
The search for this overarching interracial understanding seems unattainable to me.
My white mom friends will never understand what it feels like to have a 10-year-old Black son see a protest sign that reads, “Am I next?” and tells you that’s how he feels. He feels unsafe. He feels uncertain. He knows there’s a system that will label him as a threat for no reason other than his skin color.
You can empathize, and you can listen, but you’ll never really feel what I feel. Just like when you have a friend who’s suffering through a medical diagnosis like cancer.
You will never feel the pain they do from radiation or chemotherapy. But you can walk alongside them, make a meal, drop a letter in the mail, or fundraise to help cover their expenses.
What’s even more important for white moms is to raise kids who don’t weaponize their whiteness against others, who don’t call 911 because a Black person is walking down their street. Also:
- If your white relatives, including your spouse, make racist statements, speak up.
- Stop crossing the street when you see a Black person.
- Don’t call schools and neighborhoods “bad” without giving context to the funding and representation that made them that way.
As a journalist, educator and Black mother of twin 7-year-old boys, the clear takeaway for me after interviewing and talking to the moms featured in this article was: the key to positive change in regards to race, acceptance and diversity starts with parents and their teachings, and most importantly…their actions.
It has been my experience that while kids may not listen to everything their parents say, they do watch what they do! In the wake of all the racial upheaval and social unrest of 2020, it is a great time for parents to make a conscious effort to: stop being color blind, engage in authentic conversations about history and race, speak out against racist statements and ideologies, and diversify their children’s experiences. If a child’s school and neighborhood lacks diversity, some parents may want to make a conscious effort to expose their child to Black professionals, such as a Black doctor, dentist or extra-curricular sports coach or trainer. Atlanta is full of opportunities for all parents to engage in rich, culturally diverse experiences. While none of us can change the past, we can certainly all consciously educate our children to be productive members of society and positive change agents for the future.
– Monica Croom