We can only begin to imagine the fear George Floyd felt as he lay dying under a police officer's knee.
(Part of the reason that I can only imagine this is that I am a white woman; a white mother, with three white children. And imagining racially fueled atrocities directed at my children is not something our system has forced me to do as it has for Black mothers, forever. This is a manifestation of privilege.)
Recently released footage revealed that George Floyd used his finals breaths to call for his mother. "Mama," he called. "Mama. I'm through."
Somewhere in the depths of his being, he believed that somehow, someway, his mother could help him in his last, horrifying moments. Because isn't that ultimately what everyone believes in their core? My mother will always come.
But Mr. Floyd's mother couldn't come—she died two years ago.
When mothers around the world heard this, we let out a collective wail. Because deep down in the depths of our beings, all we ever want to be able to do to is come when our babies call us.
I'm here, my love, I'm here.
George Floyd's mother couldn't say that. But we can. Not in time to help Mr. Floyd, but please, dear God, please, in time to help someone else.
Rachel Costa, mother to a 9-year-old boy, created this viral poster that mamas around the world feel deeply in their souls.
Rachel shared the following with me:
Black mothers live in fear every day, a fear that white mothers in America can only empathize with, but will never fully understand or experience. Black mothers send their babies out into the world and have no idea if they will come back. No mother should have to feel that… And as an ally, I wanted the message to be that all mothers have been called to action. Mothers need to stand in solidarity by calling out racism when we see it, by teaching our children to recognize when they see racism and teaching them to be better than the generations before us, who [sometimes treat] systematic racism [as] "normal."
And I think it really just boils down to, what if that was your child? Would you not want the world to stand with you and advocate for a change in the system that has failed so many Black lives?
Mothers are here. And we will answer the call. Because it is the mothers of the world that can start to make this better.
This should never have happened.
Hundreds and hundreds of years of systemic racism, violence and injustice should not be the history upon which our country is built on. But here we are.
"Not again" should not be the first words we uttered when the news of Mr. Floyd's death broke. But here we are.
It should not have taken a grown man calling out for his mother for us to start paying attention. But here we are.
Here we are, indeed.
And now that we are here, we need to understand the very pivotal moment we are in.
This moment will be written about in history books. What do you want those books to say?
Mamas are incredibly powerful. Mamas get it done. Mamas make stuff happen. We need to decide what stuff we are going to make happen—and our answer to this question will be incredibly powerful, no matter what it is.
If our answer is silence—nothing— then our power is put toward being complicit supporters of racism. Our children will not learn how to do better than we have done but instead will perpetuate and exacerbate an already awful crisis.
If, however, our answer is action; well, mama is here. Here we are and here we stay until no mother on this earth must live in fear that her child will one day invoke her name as they succumb to a racist and unjust system.
So the question, powerful mama, is how will you use your power, and on what side of history will you use it?
How will you respond when your family member or co-worker says something racist?
What will you tell your child at dinner tonight about what is going on in our country?
Where will you donate when you have the opportunity to do so?
How will you choose your next book or toy for your child?
Will you consider the ways in which you may have benefited from the system in place, and how will you work to dismantle that same system?
What side of history are you going to be on? The side that did nothing? Or the side that moved mountains?
Racism is not new. Just because some may be newly aware of it does not discount the hundreds of years that is has plagued our society. We can never make up for all that has been done. But we can choose to show up differently from here on out.
In the final moments of his life, George Floyd called out for his mama. May we, as mamas, answer back by building a more just world—for all.
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- Mother of George Floyd's Daughter Speaks Out - Motherly ›
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