A Mother’s White Privilege


What if my son was black? How would you see this picture?

What if my son was black? How would you see this picture?

As the ongoing events in Ferguson, Missouri show us, America’s racial tensions didn’t disappear when George Wallace backed down from the schoolhouse door. Dr. King didn’t wave a magic wand, and we never got together to feel all right. White America remembers this at ugly flashpoints: the Rodney King beatings, the OJ Simpson trial, the Jena Six, Trayvon Martin’s death. White America recoils in horror not at the crimes – though the crimes are certainly horrible. It’s not the teenagers gunned down, the police abuse, the corrupt trials. It’s this: at these sudden, raw moments, in these riots and demonstrations and travesties of justice, White America is forced to gaze upon the emotional roil of oppression, the anger and fear and deep grief endemic to the Black American experience. Black America holds up a mirror for us.

And white America is terrified to look.

To admit white privilege is to admit a stake, however small, in ongoing injustice. It’s to see a world different than your previous perception. Acknowledging that your own group enjoys social and economic benefits of systemic racism is frightening and uncomfortable. It leads to hard questions of conscience may of us aren’t prepared to face. There is substantial anger: at oneself, at the systems of oppression, and mostly at the bearer of bad news, a convenient target of displacement. But think on this.

threatI have three sons, two years between each. They are various shades of blond, various shades of pinkish-white, and will probably end up dressing in polo shirts and button downs most of the time. Their eyes are blue and green. Basically, I’m raising the physical embodiment of The Man, times three. The White is strong in these ones.

Clerks do not follow my sons around the store, presuming they might steal something.

Their normal kid stuff – tantrums, running, shouting – these are chalked up to being children, not to being non-white.

People do not assume that, with three children, I am scheming to cheat the welfare system.

When I wrap them on my back, no one thinks I’m going native, or that I must be from somewhere else.

When my sons are teenagers, I will not worry about them leaving the house. I will worry – that they’ll crash the car, or impregnate  a girl, or engage in the same stupidness endemic to teenagers everywhere.

I will not worry that the police will shoot them.

If their car breaks down, I will not worry that people they ask for help will call the police, who will shoot them.

I will not worry that people will mistake a toy pistol for a real one and gun them down in the local Wal-Mart.

In fact, if my sons so desire, they will be able to carry firearms openly. Perhaps in Chipotle or Target.

They will walk together, all three, through our suburban neighborhood. People will think, Look at those kids out for a walk. They will not think, Look at those punks casing the joint.

People will assume they are intelligent. No one will say they are “well-spoken” when they break out SAT words. Women will not cross the street when they see them. Nor will they clutch their purses tighter.

My sons will never be mistaken for stealing their own cars, or entering their own houses.

No one will stop and frisk my boys because they look suspicious.

My boys can grow their hair long, and no one will assume it’s a political statement.

My boys will carry a burden of privilege with them always. They will be golden boys, inoculated by a lack of melanin and all its social trapping against the problems faced by Black America.

soldierFor a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn’t hit your throat when your kids walk out the door. It means you don’t worry that the cops will shoot your sons.

It carries another burden instead. White privilege means that if you don’t school your sons about it, if you don’t insist on its reality and call out oppression, your sons may become something terrifying.

Your sons may become the shooters.


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Comments

  1. […] own privilege and where I sit on the spectrum of radical action. I also want to link this article (http://manicpixiedreammama.com/a-mothers-white-privilege/) as an important reminder. So, the exchange went like […]

  2. […] you don’t quite get what I’m talking about, I hope that this beautifully written post about a mother’s sense of her own white privilege will help to put it in […]

  3. […] A Mother’s White Privilege, Manic Pixie Dream Mama […]

  4. […] all part of this “burden” of white privilege that really isn’t a burden for me or my daughters or my son unless I don’t school […]

  5. […] Rachel Held Evans “Preaching Reflections on Michael Brown and Ferguson” “A Mother’s White Privilege” “10 Things White People Can Do About Ferguson Besides Tweet” “11 Things White […]

  6. […] I ran across a blog post by the mother of three young sons, “A Mother’s White Privilege” by Manic Pixie Dream Mama. I was reminded that those of us in this country, who are white […]

  7. […] Mother’s White Privilege On ManicPixieDreamMama.com For a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn’t hit your throat when your kids walk out the […]

  8. […] You should also probably check out these posts:  I’m a White Mom, and I Care and A Mother’s White Privilege […]

  9. […] it hits me – the amazing, audacious privilege of being able to teach my child(ren) that police officers and authority generally are there to help […]

  10. […] is “A Mother’s White Privilege” where the author points out the need to raise awareness of white privilege. I won’t […]

  11. […] of you have read a blog entry titled “A White Mother’s Privilege.”  Very honest dialogue around race relations, privilege, and its effects from a […]

  12. […] read this week, both in response to the events in Ferguson, MO – Manic Pixie Dream Mama’s, A mother’s white privilege, and Janee Woods’, 12 things white people can do now because Ferguson. Please take time to read […]

  13. […] A Mother’s White Privilege  […]

  14. […] i had to share this here because.. it’s just. everything right with this […]

  15. […] this great blog by a white mother on white privilege. Don’t be scared of the […]

  16. […] A Mother’s White Privilege – Manic Pixie Dream […]

  17. […] Mother’s White Privilege On ManicPixieDreamMama.com For a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn’t hit your throat when your kids walk out the […]

  18. […] But I will never know what she experienced. Because as this post so elegantly puts it, I have a mother’s white privilege. […]

  19. […] mugged on the MetroLink can make suburban whites afraid to use it, it only takes one story (and here are several) about an African American expecting help from police and ending up arrested or dead to make […]

  20. […] to you what it is. I actually can’t, as a black man, put it in terms as eloquently as this blogger did in her blog about parenting 3 blonde children. Just know that it does exist and it’s everyone’s fault. Yes everyone. But stop letting […]

  21. […] instead of conservative media lambasting that we must bow to authority, or liberal hand-wringing over being able to recognize the destruction caused by white privilege but not knowing what to do […]

  22. […] Pixie Dream Mama wrote a poignant blog this past week on “A Mother’s White Privilege” covering the implications of […]

  23. […] A Mother’s White Privilege, Manic Pixie Dream Mama […]

  24. […] This post originally appeared on Manic Pixie Dream Mama. […]

  25. […] A Mother’s White Privilege | Manic Pixie Dream Mama. […]

  26. […] White Privilege in America, explained by a white mother. […]

  27. […] nog niet afgerond, maar dit zijn drie artikelen over Ferguson die ik de moeite waard vond: hier, hier en hier. Oh, en […]

  28. […] Read A Mother’s White Privilege by a fellow blogger who truly and admirably gets it and understands that one of the best ways she can help heal the racial tensions and murders in our society is to educate her sons not to shoot. […]

  29. […] A Mother’s White Privilege | Manic Pixie Dream Mama. […]

  30. […] my son with a respect for all human life, and the rights and responsibilities that go with it. [This blog post. […]

  31. […] this post, “A Mother’s White Privilege,” by Elizabeth Broadbent.  What mothers of white children do, and don’t, have to worry […]

  32. […] years of oppression. But how do we teach kids to care about racism? In the wake of Ferguson, more parents want to start talking. We know we want our children to have a personal stake in fighting injustice.  But that’s […]

  33. […] a good post about our privilege as white mamas. And have you heard of Mary Englebreit? Artist of whimsical drawings? I love her newest. What a […]

  34. […] When a white woman named Elizabeth Broadbent –AKA Manic Pixie Mama — writes a viral blog telling black moms everywhere that our sons will not grow up to enjoy the peace her white sons […]

  35. […] This blog post by Manic Pixie Dream Mama, written in the aftermath of the Ferguson chaos that resulted after a young black man [Mike Brown, see above] was shot, is worth taking a read of as i think she explains it really well: […]

  36. […] explains “white privilege” through the lens of a bicycle […]

  37. […] Visit the Full Article: A Mother’s White Privilege […]

  38. […] She got hundreds of thousands of hits and Facebook “Likes” for a perceptive blogpost that includes this […]

  39. […] This blog post by Manic Pixie Dream Mama, written in the aftermath of the Ferguson chaos that resulted after a young black man [Mike Brown, see above] was shot, is worth having a read as I think she explains it really well: […]

  40. […] A Mother’s White Privilege […]

  41. […] we don’t love this entire article (because it’s another White woman talking about her “burden” of privilege and we […]

  42. […] then, are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to act? I don’t feel privileged, but okay—I still am. I get it. Privilege acknowledged. Check. But now […]

  43. […] to turn a blind eye. How does a white person answer to that inconvenient truth? One white mom spoke up: To admit white privilege is to admit a stake, however small, in ongoing injustice. It’s to see a […]

  44. […] A Mother’s White Privilege (via Manic Pixie Dream Mama) […]

  45. […] at the denial that all of us white people share some guilt in systemic racism. So I pounded out “A Mother’s White Privilege,” which boils down to this: my white kids get passes. Your black kids […]