From Chicken Soup for the African American Soul

Mother-and-Son Moment

We know that we are beautiful.

Langston Hughes

I can remember the look that he had on his face. So young, cute, innocent and a creation from me with God’s help, of course—a true miracle indeed. A blessing that is worth more than anything. I’m talking about my son. I’m talking about raising this little guy as a single mother into a responsible black man.

One day my son caught me by surprise when he came to me and asked me a question. It was a Saturday morning, and I was busy typing away on my computer as I always do. I could hear the Saturday morning cartoons on in his room, which was right across from my bedroom. And here this little guy comes. Face still needs to be washed, eyes big and alive, with his black and gray Batman pajamas on, one pant leg higher than the other.

He says with his arms folded, “Mommy, why am I black?”

I could still hear myself clicking away at my keyboard, when what this little four-year-old boy had just asked me caught my complete attention. My eyebrows raised and I stopped what I was doing. I looked at him. And we were both looking at each other.

I sat straight up in my chair and said, “Baby, why do you ask me that?”

“Well, Mommy, my friend at day care said white is better than black. He said his daddy told him so. So I wanna know why God made me black?”

At this moment I could feel the anger slowly overcoming me. However, I stopped it in its tracks. I looked at my son, and I just shook my head as I took hold of his little hands.

“Baby, white is not better than black, and black is not better than white. We all are the same, just with different colors. Like your box of crayons, there are a lot of different colors but they are all in the same box. God wanted to make different colors of people. So he did. He didn’t want to make everybody the same color because that would be boring. Don’t listen to everything everybody says. Some people may not like others because they are a different color, but that’s mean and that’s not right. God loves us all. Nobody is better than anybody else. Even our hands, we all have different colors. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

I stopped there, just to see what his reaction was.

He looked at me with his eyes still big, and he said, “Okay, Mommy, nobody’s better than anybody else. God likes black people and God likes me. Okay, Mommy.” He started to leave, then he came back. “So is that why Elmo is red, and the Cookie Monster is blue and Kermit the Frog is green?”

I smiled at him, “Yes, that is why.” What could I say to that sort of reasoning?

Hours later that same day, I went into my son’s room to see what he was doing. He was very quiet, which was not usual at all. What I found left me speechless, to say the least. My emotions were mixed between, should I get mad? or should I compliment him on getting the point?

My son had drawn different colored hands all over his wall—red, blue, green, brown, orange. . . . I looked at the wall, keeping my emotions balanced, because I knew it had to be cleaned sooner or later. My son had never drawn on his wall before. Okay, on his dresser drawer, but not his wall.

As I stood there looking at these little small hands all over his bedroom, he tapped me on my side. From behind his back my son pulled out two pieces of paper. One was black construction paper with a lot of little white hands on it, and another sheet of paper was white with a lot of little black hands on it.

My son said, “Look, Mommy! Look what I drew. Look at my two papers. I wanna take them to my day care tomorrow and show my teacher and friend.”

“That’s good, baby, you do that. I like your two papers,” I answered, leaving the wall out of it, still in shock and not yet sure how to handle it.

“I like them, too. I have to teach my friend and his daddy the truth.”

I watched him as he went over to his little backpack and proudly stuffed the two papers inside.

I shook my head laughing to myself as I walked back into my bedroom thinking, Kids are so smart. My baby is so smart. Why not, I’ll let those hands sit on his wall, just a few days longer.

I thought about what happened for the rest of the day. Another job well done as a single black mother, I thought.

Tinisha Nicole Johnson

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