A parent’s job is to raise an adult. Not a child. Damn… that’d be a nice meme. Anyway, before I go off on the tangent that very phrase makes me want to go off on, I want to get right into the question the title poses. Can a white (non-black) woman successfully raise a black person? First, just like in Public Breastfeeding: Necessity or Attention-Seeking? I felt the need to ask some subject matter experts. I of course have an opinion on this subject, but I’m not, never have been and never will be a single mother. Here’s what a few moms with mix-raced kids thought and experienced (mad respect for all the women out there who are REALLY doing this alone):
“I don’t look at the situation as being a white mother raising black men it’s more of a single mother trying to raise men period. The struggle is real lol but that’s a whole other topic. I don’t claim to be trying to raise black men because I, quite frankly, know nothing about being a black man. I think I’ve been lucky enough to have the bare minimum when it comes to unfortunate experiences with my kids based on their color. My oldest was called a porch monkey by someone my cousin was trying to talk to other than that I’d venture to say nothing else that I’m aware of. Maybe a few statements by the older generation but no real racism. My family completely accepts my decision to date black men and have biracial children and I live an area where biracial children are very common, military town.”
(keep in mind, Nadja is German, and can still formulate sentences better than myself and a lot of other English-Speaking people. Edited slightly for clarity, with permission)
“When I was station in Germany I must say I really never had any race discriminating against my kids or me. But when I did move to the states I did run in few people that had race problems that I have mix kids. Oh boy I never going to forget this. I went to burger King drive thru and try to order something. She say she can’t understand me I need to drive up to the window. She looked in the car saw my kids and said “I’m sorry you can’t order any food. You got mix kids and Im tired your taken our mans” I said excuse me she said “you heard what I say.” It was one black female so after I say excuse me it was 3 black female’s looking at me crazy. I just left I didn’t had time to start a Fight for some ignorant stuff.But I did call the manager when I got home she couldn’t believe it she say she will going to do something but I don’t know if she did something about it. Because I never went back to check that day was the day I never went back to burger king. That happen in G.A. I must say in G.A I did had the most problems in race issue with black female’s. But this was in 2001-2003 I was station there. When I walk with my kids father I got a lot: find a man in your race, what you want with our mans, white trailer trash. Love the word ‘trailer-trash’ lol because I never did live in a trailer but I just ignore it, to me it makes no sense to fight over something stupid.”
“I see this question and immediately think “Ughhhhh, here we go…..” but as I sit here trying to write this, it really is something that I ask myself as a single mother every day. Not necessarily the “Black Man” but a man in general. There are things that I just won’t be able to help him out with…and these are the things that keep me up at night. That my decision to sleep with his “father” ,despite the voice in my head telling me not to, will affect his life more than it will ever affect mine. As you’ve probably figured out, the situation was not ideal. And his “father” saw him the day he was born and has shown no interest in his life at all since that day. The struggle to raise ANY CHILD as a single parent is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy! It’s hard, and it sucks sometimes. I am lucky to have an amazing support system for which I am grateful for more than they could ever imagine. So, I wonder sometimes how I will deal with teaching him about things that I have never had to deal with. Will I need a plan of attack? Is it something that I should teach him BEFORE he asks? I honestly don’t know the answers. I hope that, as any mother should teach any child, that I can teach him to be kind, respectful, responsible and that if that is something that is truly instilled in him that SOME of the struggles he will face as a Black man he will know how to handle anyway. I don’t know the struggle of this personally, so can I truly help him with these struggles?? All I know that I can do is make him aware of these struggles.
He’s too young now to notice the stares from the people in my small town, judging ME. Not because I’m a single mom, but because I’m a “Mud Shark” (It’s really just disgusting, and yes, I have been called this, to my face) How at work in the same small town, I’ve had to listen to a customer randomly spew his racial bullshit, and rant about how he feels sorry for “mixed-up” kids. I try not to engage in most cases, especially in my work environment. And even socially it’s usually not worth it, I’ll never change their minds or perception, so is it really worth me getting worked up and upset?? At the end of the day, I don’t give a rat’s ass what people think of me, so it usually isn’t. And I hope that it continues to only be addressed towards me, I can handle it. But the day it’s addressed towards him, Watch out! Momma Bear is coming Out!”
“Can a white woman raise a black man? Good question. Can a single mom raise a good father?
It’s been my experience that I cannot raise a child all on my own. Much less, raise a cultured respectable black man when I myself have not grown up in a traditional black home.
The beauty in raising kids regardless of color or ethnic makeup is that we are able to pull from past experiences and our support system. We’ve all heard the saying “It takes a village.” My village is made up of my past, my family, my kid’s grandparents and my friends. My past experiences help me to prepare my kids for what they may experience. My Dad, from day one, has always had such an open mind and love for all mankind. This has been a fundamental pillar in how I raise my children. All this being said, yes we have experienced racism. My son was 6 months old and I was told by an aunt that I was never welcome in her house again. Another time, we went to a restaurant and an older couple just could not get passed the fact that I was smiling and enjoying a meal with my kids and their black grandparents. They left but that’s okay because atleast they got a free meal from the people that ironically ruined it for them. It’s these moments that define us and our kids watch and absorb everything.
How we react is going to be the most important lesson they learn. So, yes, my village and I can raise a black man. This is evident when he tells me we are a team, when helps me with his sister no matter what I ask, when he jumps out of the car to help me pump gas, when he holds the door for 600 people at a time, and when he asks me questions like “Mom, what’s the big deal with all this black and white talk?” –
I think I may have skipped a step or two. I know there are those who think a woman can’t properly raise a man alone at all! I believe there are two sides to that, but I somewhat agree. Can a woman properly care for a boy until he’s a man? Of course! They do it all the time. Can they teach a boy how to treat a woman? How to throw a football? How to mow the lawn? Yes, yes and yes. But there’s so much more to being a man, just like there’s more to being a woman than how to shop for tampons/pads, make-up, hair supplies and heels. It’s pretty insulting to sum up what being a woman is all about, isn’t it? Well, guess what, it’s the same for us.
On top of that, there’s the factor of a white or non-person-of-color, raising a black man. As you can see, there are some mixed feelings about whether there should be a difference between raising a black man and perhaps raising a white one. And they’re right, there shouldn’t be. But the sad reality is, there is most definitely a difference. Here are my points on the matter, please forgive me, I’m a little scatterbrained lately:
There wouldn’t be so many women raising men (alone), black or otherwise if we were doing our jobs. There are only two reasons why a man shouldn’t be actively playing a role in their kids’ life. 1: You’re dead. 2: The mother expertly decieved you into not knowing about the child, or fooled someone else into thinking it was theirs. It happens… But not as much as guys simply choosing not to be Dads.
– Black Women
There are far too many of you doing poor jobs of raising your own black men. I’ve witnessed on several occasions black women being the worst possible role models for their future black men. Bringing different men in and out of your homes, and lives. Disrespecting yourselves and them in different ways. And overall, just being poor examples. If we can’t expect the best treatment of our black children by our own single mothers, why can we expect it or question it from female parents of other races?
– White [non-black] mothers:
Let’s look at the organic situations. The white [non-black] women who have conceived children with black men. If that black man chooses to leave that kids life, he has already set an ill-fated path for that child. And made the already-hard job of being a mixed-race mother even harder by not being there AND embittering that child. Furthermore, the mother has to try and keep a positive attitude about it all! Being left by her black babydaddy may have left a bad taste in her mouth about black men in general… at the same time, her son, someone she loves very much is going to grow to be one as well.
Can she do it? Well, the best answer is: she can try. That’s all we can do, right? Ultimately, preparedness is the only thing we can offer our children in the first place. I wrote this blog to let people know that it’s not a question of whether anyone can raise anyone, but moreover to let the women in this situation know that there are some special things your black son [and daughter too of course, but we’re talking more to the male] needs to be prepared for. Prepare your black son for the things he’s most likely going to run into. Even before he gets to show the world what he’s made of. You may think it’s preposterous, but it’s a fact of life, not just in America, but around the world… the color of your skin, whether adverse or positive, can and will cause a reaction of some sort. Those kids need to be taugh thtat it isn’t right, but it can and does happen. And when they don’t understand, tell them they’re right for feeling like it doesn’t make sense, and that they should try to stay the way they are. Not seeing a difference because of it. But not acknowledging the issue is not the best route of action. I assure you that. Allowing your son to have his first brush with racism [because it IS going to happen] unprepared is highly irresponsible. Our job isn’t necessarily or only to protect our children from the world, but to ultimately prepare them for it. (Yes, you can quote me on that.)
So, you ask yourself. Can a white woman raise a black man? Can I? Can we ever get to a point that we won’t need to prepare a black child for things we don’t need to prepare a white, brown, or yellow one for?
We can try.
Scream at me.
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Related blogs: Are You ‘Acting Black’?
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