A White Mother Shapes a Black Man

In a poignant piece about his white mother, Albert L. Butler at MSNBC drives home an important yet often overlooked fact: "White mothers of black boys are confronted by the same realities as black mothers."

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A young Albert L. Butler with his mother (Courtesy of Albert L. Butler)

"White mothers of black boys are confronted by the same realities as black mothers," Albert L. Butler writes at MSNBC in a poignant piece about his white mother. He says it's an important yet often overlooked fact.

I am an avid watcher of Melissa Harris-Perry, so I was not at all surprised–and was quite pleased–when host Melissa Harris-Perry tackled the subject of white mothers raising black boys in America in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. Prior to turning to her panel, the professor reminisced about her white mother offering a relevant (yet often overlooked) point that white mothers of black boys are confronted by the same realities as black mothers.

As the segment continued, I found myself nodding in agreement as the panel of mothers discussed how important it was to talk about race, discrimination, and culture with their black children. I know firsthand how important this is; I am the black son of a white mother, and my mom made sure she addressed those issues in various ways from my early childhood to my early adulthood. Even now, as I stretch across the 40-year-old threshold, we still discuss all of it. Her choices, in very large measure, empowered me to be the strong, confident black man that I am today.

My dad was a Baptist city kid from Brooklyn, working as a civil rights activist and youth advocate when he met my mom, a Quaker girl from a tiny farming community in North Carolina getting a master's degree in social work.

Read Albert L. Butler's entire piece at MSNBC.

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