Last Monday Ru turned seven and we were able to celebrate much more than last year, but not to the full extend he wanted. Ru wanted a class party, but as we are still in a pandemic, he had to settle for a BBQ with close family on the Saturday. We decorated the house on the Monday and had a trip to McDonald’s as a birthday treat, later that day.
I take immense gratitude in the thought that Ru is healthy and has safely navigated another spin around the sun, but the older he gets the more worried I become. He is growing up in a world that is designed against him. As he goes through school as a child of black Caribbean heritage, he is three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school. When he overcomes those hurdles and is successful at school, he only has a 6 percent chance of attending a Russell Group university. Once he has his degree, he will earn 23.1% less than his white counterparts. If he makes a wrong choice, he is three times more likely to be prosecuted then white boys of his age. Then if he travels on public transport, race hate crimes have risen by nearly 40% meaning he could be subjected to abuse just because of the colour of his skin. [i].
The death of George Floyd along with the BLM movement has brought discussions of race to the forefront. Despite the government’s insulting race report, when Dea-John Reid, a 14-year-old boy was murdered in broad daylight by two white men and two white boys because of his skin colour, nobody can state that racism does not exist. Racism is learnt behaviour and although no-one is born racist, it can develop through environmental exposure. I have to wonder, what those men and boys saw, learnt, or absorbed to make them think that their actions were justifiable. Those killers had mothers, but for some reason they thought it fine to murder another mother’s son. Mothers have a major impact on their children’s development, so I therefore write a letter to mothers of white children, to allow my son the ability to live his life to the fullest.
Dear white mother,
I write this note because I need you as an ally.
There is war in a world that has existed before us and will be there in some form after we are gone, but we have the power to bring about impactful change.
As the mother of black sons, I ask you to help let my son live.
Please raise your child to appreciate differences in all society, to understand his white privilege and to have the courage to challenge the system, remarks and processes which they see as wrong.
As you mother your child, surround him with an eclectic mix of friends, so that when he is a man, he will not see my son as a threat and will see him as the whole person he is, rather than just a black man.
Challenge the unconscious biases that you may have, so that your generation pass on to the next, the narrative of those who have experienced institutionalised racism.
Research and seek to have knowledge of the lived experiences of black people by yourself.
Above all, raise your son to value all human life and treat others as you would expect to be treated.
I write this note not to question your parenting, but to seek a chance for my son to live and thrive.
Much Love xx
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