Moved by the failure of a grand jury to indict Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Maralee Bradley, the White adoptive mother of a Black son, posted an essay on her blog titled To the White Parents Of My Black Son’s Friends.
Bradley wrote the controversial piece to share the steps she has taken to ensure the safety of her Liberian son.
An excerpt from To the White Parents Of My Black Son’s Friends reads:
I’ve been wrestling with talking to you about some things I think you need to know. I’ve wrestled with it because I feel my own sense of shame– shame that I didn’t know or understand these issues before they touched my family. I’ve felt fear that you’ll respond in subtle ways that make it clear you aren’t safe for my child. I’ve been concerned that you won’t believe me and then I’ll feel more angry than if I hadn’t said anything. But my son is getting older and as he transitions from an adorable black boy to a strong black man, I know the assumptions about him will change. And I need your help in keeping him safe.
We talk to our son about safety issues. We talk to him about being respectful of police (and anyone in authority), about keeping his hands where they are visible, about not wearing his hood up over his face or sneaking through the neighbor’s backyard during hide-and-seek or when taking a shortcut home from school. We are doing what we can to find this bizarre balance of helping him be proud of who he is and helping him understand that not everybody is going to see him the way we see him. Some people are going to see him as a “thug” before they ever know his name, his story, his gifts and talents.
On Friday, Bradley appeared on TV One’s NewsOne Now to discuss her blog post and why she felt the need to address some of the things the parents of her son’s friends do in front of and around her adopted child.
She told Martin, host of NewsOne Now, “I felt if they knew better, they would do better, but there really was just an ignorance about the issues affecting my son.”
In her controversial piece that has garnered more than 600K hits, Bradley suggested the friends’ parents should watch what they say when talking to her son.
Bradley explained, “You want to make sure they are not telling racially insensitive jokes, that they’re not putting on Black slang when they talk to my son, and that they are just aware of the kinds of words they’re using and able to talk to their kids with sensitivity about issues involving race.”
Bradley cited instances when the parents would greet him differently than her other children. “They might say ‘hi’ to one of my White kids and they’re going to say ‘what’s up’ to my Brown son, and I feel like that’s just not authentic.”
As you would imagine, Bradley received varying responses to her blog post, but said, “the actual community for my son was very respondent” to her letter and her neighbor explained she would “sit down and talk to her son” immediately because “they had never had this conversation.”
Bradley went on to explain, “There really was this desire to be informed and to be having these talks” about race.