Any mom can identify with the fact that there are a lot of things that no one told us about motherhood or if they told us, there was no way to fully be prepared. As a mom to a Black son, though, there are things distinct to this experience that I had no idea about and I think many moms of non-black children, especially white moms have no idea either.
Here are a few things that no one prepared me for when I was pregnant with my Black baby.
Avoiding a “Thug Baby” or Clothing that Perpetuates Stereotypes
Dressing up my little man was one thing I was so excited about when I was pregnant. It never crossed my mind that I would actually worry about my baby or toddler looking like a thug.
That’s something I’ve had to think about even at a young age – hoodies, beanies, solid red, etc. Someone actually told me that my son looked like a thug when he was a young toddler.
Also, I never realized how many baby clothes have monkeys on them until I had a Black baby. I had someone gift me a towel with a monkey on it. I kept it at first, so as not to offend, until one day it just “disappeared”.
I’ve also heard moms of daughters say that they’ve had to avoid watermelon clothing, we never came across that. Not many boys’ clothes have watermelons.
This may seem silly to you but it is a legitimate concern that I’ve heard many mothers of Black children say they’ve had as well, we have to be mindful of clothing that perpetuate racial stereotypes pretty much from birth.
Fearing the day my Black son becomes a “threat”.
I’ve heard it explained like this: when our Black sons are young they’re like cute little puppies. Everyone loves them and thinks they’re so adorable but then, one day, they suddenly become bulldogs. Something to be feared.
The hardest part about this is that I do not know when it will happen but I do know that it will happen. At this point in society, it is inevitable.
The “scary Black man” stereotype and fear of Black men is very real. I know that my son will have to learn how to interact with others so as not to intimidate them. He will have to be one step ahead, in order to let them know that they have nothing to fear.
This is something I was not prepared to teach him and still am not, if I’m being honest.
Holding Back Tears because of a Racist Remarks
No mom wants her child to be teased or left out by other children and I really wasn’t prepared for how deeply I would feel his rejection like when he wailed because the neighbor told him he’s not funny.
That hurt my heart.
But it pales in comparison to the day we were at our HOA pool and a little girl was teasing her brother for playing with “the little Black boy”. This was the first time something like that happened and my son was only about 2 or 3 years old.
I actually had to hold back tears.
No one prepared me for that but here’s the thing, I know that the day will come when he will face these things on his own… another thing no one prepared me for: how to teach my child to respond to racism.
Making Decisions for My Son’s Education
We all want the best for our kids, including education. Decisions about education are something that every parent will face and many of us will fret over.
However, when you have a Black child, it’s a different ball game.
In addition to class size and a positive learning environment, as the mom of a Black son I also have to consider that research shows that there are great disparities in education for Black children, including that Black kids are more likely to be disciplined than white kids for the same behavior.
Black students are three times more likely to be suspended than white kids. Again, for the same behaviors.
Also, white teachers have lower expectations for the Black students and the majority of teachers are white.
This information can be overwhelming and stressful for moms, like you, who only want the best for our kids.
Being a mom is hard, for all of us. But, unfortunately, due to racism in this country for moms of Black children, there are some added stressors that you may have never considered. I hope by sharing a few of mine, you will be inspired to show some support to a mom of a Black son that you might know. Follow up with teaching your own children how to be antiracist with these amazing books.
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