A white man responds to a Black Mother. I am humbled by your invitation to join the private space where you toss and turn. You lie in the dead of night with your eyes wide open besieged by a lower back that won’t stop aching. Your stomach twists in knots over and over and over again. Head spinning, threatening to race out of control, your mind floods with endless terrifying thoughts.
It could be one of your brothers, your father, or a cousin. A friend is shot in the back. This time, they’re choking your son. Like others, his last words are “I can’t breathe!” He joins a chorus whose final utterance is “Mama!”
This time…next time…
I honor your words. Your images demand a long, hard look. They pose the important question. What if it was my loved one snuffed out by a racist society’s knee on their neck? Where is my courage when the society in which I live determines certain lives don’t matter?
White Man Responds
Thank you Black Mother for letting me inside, under your skin; for revealing the pain lodged in your soul. I feel your grief and hear your rage roar. Your “bravery, courage and fearlessness in spite of the pain” are all forged by pain. All is sharpened by the pain. When they murder one Black life, they threaten all lives who share your beautiful brown skin.
Your ache and by your knotted stomach humble me. At your core, a fire burns. Centuries of gross injustice fuel the fire. In turn, the fire ignites constant rage. Rage born of the fire pushes you to place your words on to a page. Words born of rage shout “motha’ fucka’ enough”.
Thank you for trusting me to hear your cry, to heed your call to action. I give thanks, also, for the invitation to stand with you. You, the aggrieved, speak so honestly to me as I stand in my skin, the same skin as the murderers. I am the same shade as the enslavers. Those who threaten you, your family and your children look like me. It’s our skin that wields criminal power through terrorist threat to you and people of your skin. Our white skin has abused our unearned power to rape women of your skin. In the end, my skin is the skin of the motha’ fucka’s who perpetrated this history of heinous crimes against your beautiful brown skin.
And despite my skin, somehow you show the humanity to invite me in. Somehow you trust me to get it. Remarkably, you see me as more than my skin. You trust me with the truth of your written words born of the pain that festers under your skin, your beautiful brown skin.
I Stand with You
Forever, I promise to hear your powerful words. Thank you for your courage to imagine something better together. Humbly, I stand with you, your beautiful brown skin and mine, something so very different.