George Floyd, the White Mama, and Anti-Racism: a Reckoning
I saw this image last week, and the message hasn’t left my mind. It happened right after I read this opinion piece, called “I Need White Mamas to Come Running,” by Christy Oglesby, a senior producer at CNN. Her plea hasn’t left my mind, either.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the atmosphere in our house has shifted. David and I, I know, are not alone in this. We’ve begun reading and listening in a way we haven’t before: articles and essays online and books in our house and on my phone are being re-read or picked up anew. He’s just finished Angie Thomas’ The Hate You Give and is about to start the beautiful Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m listening to Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’m taking my time with that one. It’s both incredible and raw and, as a mother, really hard to hear. But the mother needs to pay attention to the voices of her children, so I’m listening.
David and I been talking a lot more about race: with each other, with our children, with family, and with my mom’s caregivers. It’s been brought up in quiet, introspective conversations. It’s been talked about with a humility not usually present in casual small talk. Despite hearing my father speak out against racism in my childhood, I was brought up to “not see color.” I thought I was doing a good thing by practicing the same with my family. I’m a mother, though. I can learn better ways, and I’ll change my parenting to help all of my children thrive.
David and I usually direct our charitable giving to our church or Catholic Charities, public radio/television, or food banks. I’m now researching local organizations that uplift the Black community in Pennsylvania for us to support. Because I’m a mother, I know that mamas need to dip into their wallets when our children have particular needs.
I’m a mother. I’m a person who’s wiped the tears of another woman’s child, who’s called for help for an injured daughter I don’t know, who’s stopped in her tracks to observe and brace for action when she senses danger around another mother’s son. We do it instinctively, we mothers, in the quiet moments. We help without thinking. But it’s past time we start doing it consciously, loudly.
“…I’m tired,” Oglesby writes about mothering her Black son. “I’m tired of being scared for him. I’m tired of reading about Ahmaud, Travis, George and so many others. The list never stops. I need the white mamas to share this burden. I need my white friends to love me and mine enough to come running, too.”
Please go read Oglesby’s essay. It’s time to start running toward our hurt babies. We are mothers, after all.
We’ve been summoned.