*There are a lot of white people out there who just don’t know. They don’t know what to say or how to act or respond to ‘black issues.’ They may have little in common with the racism put forth by their ancestors.
But in today’s racially-charged, and prejudice-laced climate where ignorance seems to have people of any race pointing fingers at the other and blaming them for all of the world’s ills, one post by the white mother of a black child–written especially to her white friends with the intent of telling them how they can be of assistance by teaching their children about racism; not thinking that describing themselves as ‘colorblind’ is the right way to go, and what to do if they see the police harassing her son as he grows into black manhood has struck a nerve.
Good for her.
In columnist Lonnae O’Neal‘s Washington Post article, “A white mom’s plea ‘to the white parent’s of my black son’s friends,'” Maralee Bradley, a mother of six, found she couldn’t sleep well after hearing about the Grand Jury’s decision to not indict the officer who had killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The Nebraska mother’s “fitful sleep” after hearing the decision was more than the typical ‘Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.’ that may be offered by someone on their way to next. This particular decision hit home for this white mother of a 9-year-old black son.
Josh was adopted from Liberia and he has a lot of white friends. After hearing the verdict, Bradley and a friend started discussing what they, as white people, could do to bring awareness to other white people; especially as it related to the parents of Josh’s friends.
She started thinking about Josh hanging out with white friends at a park, about him being the only child of color at another child’s birthday party,” writes O’Neal, who interviewed Bradley. “What do I need those parents to be aware of?” the mother asked herself. “What might feel unsafe to me, that they might not know about?”
“I was just thinking we need a level of awareness for everybody involved with my child,” Bradley says.
The next morning, she wrote an essay, “To the White Parents of My Black Son’s Friends,” on her parenting blog. It was heartfelt, unsparing and spelled out things she wanted a small group of people — her son’s teachers, the people who had him in their home — to understand.
It may be hard for black folk to understand, or maybe some of us just don’t want to. After all, that takes compassion, and compassion takes effort. But sometimes, shit is as simple (or as complex) as white folk who disagree with racist behavior are not only unaware, but clueless on what they can do.
Bradley started her essay off with,
“I’ve been wrestling with talking to you about some things I think you need to know. I’ve wrestled with it because I feel my own sense of shame — shame that I didn’t know or understand these issues before they touched my family. . . . I’ve been concerned that you won’t believe me and then I’ll feel more angry than if I hadn’t said anything. But my son is getting older and as he transitions from an adorable black boy to a strong black man, I know the assumptions about him will change. And I need your help in keeping him safe,” she began.
She spoke of conversations she and her husband had to have with their son, that included things like hoodie-wearing and not playing ‘hide and seek’ in their white neighbors yard.
But then, and most important, she put these unknowing white folk to task in a Here is what I want you to do kind of way.
And I, for one, think that’s pretty damn commendable.
We often tap into issues because they hit home on a deeper level. Columnist Lonnae O’Neal appears to have been touched by Maralee Bradley’s story. Perhaps due to her own handsome young black man: Her 12-year-old son, Satchel.
As usual, I welcome your thoughts. It would be a pleasant surprise if they are positive.