REFLECTIONS FROM A MOTHER OF AN AFRICAN AMERICAN SON:
I write this, not as a minister, but as a mother - the mother of a black son. He is a brilliant young man; a gentle soul; a hard-worker; the primary caretaker of his aging grandparents. He loves cars, biking, hanging out with his friends. And he loves me, his white mother. But none of that matters to men like those who murdered Ahmaud Arbery.
Look at my son. He’s the son I longed for, cradled, sang to, argued with, laughed with, invested in, believe in, cry over, and pray for. He’s the one who raids my fridge, ignores my texts, rolls his eyes at my counsel, but calls me at midnight when he needs help. He’s loved. He’s valuable. He’s a Child of God. He’s American. He’s black. And, he’s my son.
I’m a mother who knows first hand that racism against black people is not only an occasional incident by a handful of ignorants in this country. I’m a mom who has run with her infant son in arms from white thugs shouting racial slurs. I’m a mom who’s blocked her young boy from being run over by a skateboarding skin-head. I’m a mom who’s confronted neighborhood kids chanting racist remarks while their parents giggled; who challenged biased teachers, bigoted church members, and prejudiced pastors. I’m a mom who daily told her black son, “Please be careful. Please don’t drive too fast. Please don’t wear you hoodie. Please don’t walk alone.” I’m a Mom who hits the floor interceding when he is biking, driving, walking or…Like Ahmaud, just going out for a jog.
Because racism in this country is raw, rabid, real, brutal, pervasive, and systemic. It permeates not only the southern country backwoods culture – it is infused even at the highest levels of government, and even more insidiously, it is coddled in the Church.
This mother’s day, I’ll have the joy of being with my beautiful son. But Ahmaud’s mother will not have that joy. I’m sure she warned her son too. She shouldn’t have had to. He was loved, valuable, a child of God and an American. But to his murderers, it didn’t matter, because he was black.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know this: it is imperative Ahmaud’s murder provoke movement beyond the media moment. Grief must motivate righteous action, and outrage rouse holy justice. Ahmaud should be the last young son to be shot for being black, and his mother, the last to grieve on Mother’s Day because of it.