His Reality: Raising my Black Son
It was a regular night for our family, Terrance was watching sports and I was bathing Miles. I pulled his wet body out of the tub with our new collection of fluffy white towels; patting him dry but leaving dampness on his skin. I began to lather his body with a combination of raw cocoa butter and oils made special for our family. We began to talk as we normally do, he said: “Mommy I wish my skin looked like yours”.
Shocked yet confused I asked, “what does Mommy’s skin look like to you?” he said, “it’s white, you are white” tears began to whale up in my eyes, I took a moment and asked God to give me a response…..I told him “mommy is black just like you and daddy” and he said, “daddy is really black and I don’t want to look like that.” Anger & sadness began to overtake me. While holding back the tears I shared with him how beautiful his skin is, how his color is special and there is absolutely no one that looks like him and that how God made him just for Daddy and me.
This wasn’t a new conversation for us. We’d engage in this type of dialogue before but on this night, I was called to be intentional and share the gospel with my five-year-old. Even in the truths of the Bible I still was overcome with doubt about my motherhood; should he be around more children that look like him? Had I failed him as a black mom? What did I do wrong?
The truth is I had in fact done nothing wrong. My son was experiencing something that a lot of people of color experience; that feeling of somehow having a disadvantage because of their skin color or that feeling of being less than. Had my son's skin already began to speak for him before he entered the room? Was he already being faced with the reality of racism and injustice?
As I began to process this old but new reality for us it brought me to a place of uneasy peace. I could begin to have real conversations with him about race and injustices but also the beauty of being black in America. The dialogue continues….