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The Shadow Behind Black Mothers and Their Sons (NYT)


By Christian Drake, August 4, 2020, NYT.

My son is 4 years old. He is funny and charming and naughty in the most delightful ways possible. He is the perfect host, making sure we understand and enjoy every part of his world.9B155C0A-BA9D-47DD-A107-06CDA28ED1FC

Recently, he has been waiting for a letter from his best friend at school — they have been writing back and forth to stay connected during the quarantine. As we walk down the driveway to the mailbox, he stops without my asking at the exact place where the driveway apron begins. He checks to be sure that the toe of his sneaker is as close to the line as possible yet still behind it. He looks back at me and smiles, showing me what he’s done. I notice my relief. He follows directions, I think. This is good, this will keep him safe, I think. I hope.

I now know what I have been carrying. I want everyone to know what Black parents are carrying. This shadow that follows closely behind the bright spots in our lives. If you looked closely, I would bet you could see this shadow over our faces. It steals our smiles just a moment sooner than we would otherwise be finished with them. It brings tears to our eyes when something an awful lot like grief mixes with the joy of watching our children grow and thrive.

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