Sarah McAffry | Voted Knoxville's Best Photographer | Family, Senior and Teen Photography in East Tennessee » Knoxville Family, Senior and Teen Photographer in East Tennessee

As Mother to an Immigrant Son

Many descriptors come to mind for this sunrise over the capital of Ethiopia, but I can tell you one specific word that doesn’t come to mind. #shithole

Last night I was gritting my teeth with tears stinging my eyes, utterly shocked at the scene I was watching on the screen. African countries labeled as shitholes? Ethiopia a shithole? I don’t understand. A developing country? Sure. Ethiopia may have a long way to go, but with the second fastest growing economy in Africa, she is moving in the right direction. And that’s to say nothing of the rich spiritual history — actually, you know what? That’s all the debating I’ll be doing on that subject.

As mother to an immigrant son from one of “those” countries, I’m feeling my inner Mama Bear take over today. To be honest, I normally stuff those feelings down. It’s easier to be the one not rocking the boat. Let somebody else do the speaking out, you know? But this time it’s different. This is deeply personal.

In my past two years as white mom to a black son, I have learned more than I ever knew I would need to know about the state of racism in our country.

To those of you who have the gall to claim that President Trump’s statement wasn’t racist, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve never been the victim of racism yourself, have you? I encourage you to lift the veil of privilege that you’ve lived your life behind. Step outside of your homogenous world and into the world of someone who lives this daily. See if your perspective changes.

I have, and I have changed.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe I have the final word on all things race related. I still have so much to learn. Thanks to the people of color in my circles who have opened my eyes and who continue you to guide me down this nuanced road of parenting a child of another race.

I will continue to listen. I will continue to honor your life experience. I will continue lift my veil of privilege.

And most importantly, I will fight for my son. I will fight for respect for his country of origin, for the color of his skin and I will no longer turn a blind eye to racism.

To our kind, gentle, beautiful, capable son – We believe in you – not because of the country listed on your birth certificate  or because of the color of your skin, but because of who God created you to be. You are a treasured gift in our family. In our family alone, you have opened our minds and our hearts in beautiful ways. The impact you will have in your school, in our community and for the kingdom is immeasurable. We are the lucky ones. We are the blessed and you are the blessing.

Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear. ― James Baldwin