Take the Mom power challenge and let’s fix this world
Courtney, a young white woman walks into a hair salon filled with all black women at different stages of getting their hair done by black hair stylists.
“Hi, can I help you?” calls out one of the stylists.
“Yes, um…my name is Courtney…and my husband and I just found out that I am pregnant with our first baby. I’m here because I don’t want my child to grow up in a world of racism and ignorant hatred. But…I know that kind of change begins in small ways and with me. So I decided to fight my fear and walk in here and say hello to women I would probably never speak to under normal circumstances.”
With a big broad smile, she says “Hello ladies! It’s a pleasure meeting you”.
Pregnancy is amazing in so many ways. If ever there is a good time to reflect on the bigger picture of life it’s during pregnancy. Adding another human being to our society is a gift. We all get one more chance for improvement, and there is a good amount of room for improvement.
Motherhood and Race
My 18-year-old son is off to college in September. So far he’s a success story—by most people’s standards. He is a young black man who has grown up with nannies, attended private schools, drove himself to high school and lived a generally upper-middle-class life. But all of that doesn’t change the fact that he also shares the looks of a gang-banger, a potential suspect in some law enforcement’s eyes, a menace to society.
This is every black mother’s stress. It doesn’t matter if you’ve “made it” and given your child the gift of a solid, supportive family and privileged upbringing. Racism exists. It presents a constant struggle and a scary, unforgiveable and unrelenting nightmare that is for-real and seemingly never ends.
But in the face of all of that grief and fear I still can’t help but to wonder and care so deeply about the real gang banger out there—the real “suspect and menace.” How much better would our society be if that child—and he was a child at some point—had been offered a life that ensured he used his powers for good, not evil. I wonder about the quality of his prenatal development and the nature of his early childhood experiences.
My son, just like every other human being, has the potential to be the social scientist that figures out how to destroy racism, or rid young people of their need to form gangs for a sense of family. He may not be the one to do it; perhaps that beautiful human being growing inside of you right now will be the one to help relieve people of their fears of difference. As you grow, love and envelop your unborn baby into your world and make promises to keep him safe from harm, also promise to keep him safe from all fears—including (and maybe most important) your own. It is within your power to help him learn to use his powers for good, forever.
Forever is a big word, and you’ll notice that I keep saying “he” when we both know your baby may be a girl—so let me digress for a moment. Men run the world. That may not always be true, but they do right now. Yet, before they were grown men running the world, they were little boys, completely and wholeheartedly dependent on us women, in most cases. As their earliest guardians and educators, we are best positioned to have a positive and lasting effect on our boys that lasts forever. (I’ll talk about our girls in another column.) Being good mothers to our sons includes challenging ourselves to think in new ways and conquer our fears of different—just as Courtney did in my little story. So take the challenge, whether you are a white woman saying hello to a black neighbor or a black woman greeting a white co-worker in the cafeteria, let’s use those Mom Powers for good, forever!
Let’s Fix this World!