"Let's Go Before Somebody Shoots Me" – Hard Words For the White Mom of a Black Son

Wogauyu marimba

He grabbed my arm, saying, “Let’s go before somebody shoots me.”

Wogauyu had just finished playing the marimba in a fun concert at the farmers market and I suggested we wander up main street before heading home.

I looked at him in surprise. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Mom, they shoot people like me,” he said, as he rubbed one finger on the back of his other hand, “and I think that black lives matter.”

I tried to reassure my nine year-old, “Honey, nobody is going to shoot you. You are safe right here,” but even as I said it, I felt deep sadness knowing that I cannot shield him from the shift that is coming as he grows from a cute black boy to a not-as-cute black teenager.

As a White Mother of Black Sons

orange for k bday


“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird 

I offended some people this weekend, family and friends whom I love. This caught me by surprise and I was reminded that we all see life, and read words, through our own lens and experience.

On Saturday I shared a blog post on my One Thankful Mom Facebook page written by Steve Locke, a professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He wrote of his experience beinging detained by the police because he matched the description of someone who had tried to break into a woman’s house.

I read, I Fit the Description, and for the first time, I experienced the internal process of a black man being questioned by the police. I read it as the white mother of black sons, and I thought about my boys.

"Dad! There are White People?"

time for math

Russ was singing to the boys last night as he tucked them in bed; he went through a number of old favorites and wrapped it up with “Jesus loves the Little Children.”  When he got to the line, “…red and yellow, black and white…” Little Man interjected, “Dad!  There are white people?”  Russ answered, “Well yes – I’m white.”  Little Man shook his head, and with a wise smile said, “No, you’re not, you’re brown.”

“Dad! There are White People?”

time for math

Russ was singing to the boys last night as he tucked them in bed; he went through a number of old favorites and wrapped it up with “Jesus loves the Little Children.”  When he got to the line, “…red and yellow, black and white…” Little Man interjected, “Dad!  There are white people?”  Russ answered, “Well yes – I’m white.”  Little Man shook his head, and with a wise smile said, “No, you’re not, you’re brown.”

Tears and Jackie Robinson

My young homeschoolers, Sunshine (7), Eby (5), and Little Man (3) have a special time each morning when we gather on the sofa to read our One Year Children’s Bible, followed by a story or two out of The Children’s Book of Heroes, and then some picture books.  It is a restful moment in the midst of a busy day.

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Today I opened our Hero book to the story of Jackie Robinson.  The intro at the top of the page read,

Here is the story of an American hero who won his fight using self-control.  Often, bravery means keeping your cool and doing the best you can in a bad situation.

As I read those words aloud, my heart sank and I knew I did not want to read this story.  My beautiful brown-skinned boys were looking eagerly at the illustration of Jackie in his baseball uniform and the last thing I wanted to introduce them to was racism.