Discovering Racism Under My Skin (as the white mother of a black son)


Six years ago I became a mother. Before trying to have biological children, my husband and I had decided to adopt a child already in need of a family. Our desire to practice an incarnational Christianity led us to a tiny orphanage in Uganda, where we met and fell in love with our first son. A judge, not an OB/GYN, was the first to declare us parents.

Six years ago I had done my research. I knew that the long task before me included not just diapers and fevers, emotional refuge and moral guidance; my unique motherhood required of me a commitment to learn about and engage in a culture different than my own. And not necessarily my son’s Ugandan culture, for although critically important to his identity, he would likely never again live in his home country. I knew little of much at all six years ago, at 27 years old, but I knew my son would grow up African American. And I knew I had to help him do it.

Six years ago social media had not yet hit it’s boom. Cameras on phones were novel, ignorance was unfortunate bliss, and Black Lives Matter was still an unnamed dream in the hearts of hopeful black Americans. The United States had managed to push racism under the surface, where white women like me had the privilege of assuming it rare. Six years ago my biggest concern for our transracial family was having Black friends for my son to identify with.

We all know how the story twists.

Smart phones began catching disturbing videos, Twitter created overnight hashtag phenomena, Facebook Live broadcasted police brutality, and slowly what was once dormant found resuscitation.

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Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)