Stones of hope: A black mother in Naperville, fearing for her kids, tries not to feel helpless

  • Kimberly White

    Kimberly White

 
By Kimberly White
Straight from the Source
Updated 6/3/2020 8:27 AM
Kimberly White of Naperville is executive director of the Career & Networking Center in Naperville. Her husband, Benjamin White, is the first black member of the Naperville City Council. This essay was published as a post on her Facebook page.

Keeping it real today.

I've been trying to write this post for the last few days, but every time I started writing, the tears started, too, and I was unable to see what I was writing, so I would stop and promise to come back to it. Today, despite the tears, I'm committed to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As I write, my husband is sitting across from me, in our shared home office, writing down his own thoughts. He's pounding away on the keyboard. I don't know exactly what he is writing, but I know he is frustrated. I know he is sad and I know he is not OK.

As I write, our daughter is on a call with work colleagues. Her company has had a number of open conversations, via Zoom, to let their employees talk, share, and vent. During the past few weeks, she has shed many tears, probably more than me. She's 24. She's beautiful, graduated summa cum laude and has successfully matriculated into the corporate world. She has an answer for every question put before her, except one -- why is there still so much hate? I know she is frustrated. I know she is sad. I know she is not OK.

As I write, our son is out on a run. Yep, he came into the office and said, "I'm going for a run." He's a runner -- he should be able to go for a run. Period. But at that moment, the three of us locked eyes, all thinking the same thing.

He sees the fear in his parents' eyes, and we see the fear in his. He kisses me on the cheek and says be safe and off he goes.

I have a pit in my stomach, but I remind myself -- he knows the rules when he leaves the house. He's 28. We've been over them a gazillion times. Stay on the main road. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Comply. Don't talk back. We will deal with what we have to deal with after the fact ... just come home alive. Our son is well aware that his blackness makes some uneasy.

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He can't bring himself to watch the videos. I know he is frustrated, I know he is sad and I know he is not OK.

As a mother of black children, my journey has been and continues to be different than those who are not raising black children. While our hopes and dreams may be somewhat similar, our fears when our kids walk out the door are not. I prayed for my kids to never feel the sting of racism, but unfortunately, that prayer wasn't answered.

They've spent countless nights in my arms as I held them and wiped away their tears, and not because of a relationship gone bad but because someone called them the "N" word or monkey.

As adults, they continue to share stories of injustices that they've personally experienced and those of their friends. I feel helpless. I am frustrated, I am sad and I am not OK.

I'm thankful that my children are back home with us during this pandemic. I can't imagine them being alone in their respective apartments back East during this time of isolation. I'm thankful we are able to share in the day-to-day routine with each other.

We've had mostly good days, but on our not-so-good days, we mourned the loss of our beloved dog, BeLo, the passing of one of Benny's cousins due to the coronavirus, and the murders of three people none of us knew and yet each of us felt a connection to -- Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. SAY THEIR NAMES.

As I write, I hear the door open. Our son is home. He's breathing. He's alive.

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