Why I Grieve

The Heart of a Black Mother

Posted Jun 02, 2020

By Marietta H. Collins, Ph.D. on behalf of the Atlanta Behavioral Health Advocates

To say that my heart is broken is meaningless; that my tears won’t stop is senseless. Why should my grief be heard or read about any more than other mothers? Mothers who HAVE lost their sons, who HAVE lost their daughters. My grief is for them. My grief is for myself. My grief is for the children, those lost and those still with us.

Marietta Collins
Source: Marietta Collins

I can say that my son is safe and my daughter is safe; but is that really the case? We taught them to make the right choices, carefully nurtured, and empowered their spirits. We helped them choose schools to help them begin to tell their life story, schools that were “a good fit” for them – a Historically Black College and University and a Predominately White Institution. Being an honors scholar or graduating Magna Cum Laude could not prevent us from having to teach them how to “drive while black.” We still had to tell them “you can’t be as good, you must be better” and that “policemen are not your friends.”

I feel powerless as an “educated Black woman” who educated her Black children to follow the rules; but whose rules? Rules that change depending on the color of your skin. I constantly question what will help, what will allow them to be seen as “Young, Gifted, and Black“ jewels that were intentionally crafted and polished and not as “threatening or uncooperative”?

Not as Black in America.

So what is a mother supposed to do? What can I do? How can I go on? I know that “it won’t be okay” when my heart is broken. My tears continue to fall; my soul begins to wither, and I grieve.

I grieve, anticipating that I will be without my son, without my daughter. 

I grieve that racism will render my son or daughter powerless. 

I grieve that because racism continues to exist, it continues to threaten their very existence.

I grieve that my son or daughter will cry out for me and I won’t be able to rescue or save them, not because of anything they did, but because racism continues to exist.

However, I refuse to be powerless in my grief. I refuse to be silent. I choose to fight; to fight as I grieve. 

I will fight with and for my children.

I will fight with the mothers of children lost.

I will fight with mothers who will grieve and cry.

I will fight for all the children; fight with all the mothers.

I will not give up.

I will fight against racism.