5.2
August 23, 2017

I’m a White Mom—That is my Privilege.

I’m a mom.

If I’m honest with myself, it’s who I am more than any other piece of me.

Being a mom is what drives me to be better when I find myself failing in some way or soul searching in another way. More than anything, it is what I focus on in my day-to-day existence. It is the most challenging and rewarding identity I’ve ever known.

It is the first identity I wake up to each morning. It is the identity I drift in and out of when I meditate in the stillness of a dark night.

It is the one thing that connects me with complete strangers in the most primal ways—reducing me to a blathering, infantile state-of-being—snot pouring and tears staining as I sit in the comfort of my vehicle, the safety of my country, listening to a foreign voice on the radio tell stories of pain and suffering endured by Syrian refugee children. Being a mom is the part of me I can most easily and genuinely share with others. It is my most familiar, most important, most all-consuming self.

There are lots of other pieces to me though.

When my kids are grown, maybe I’ll identify more as the lover, the yogi, the writer, or the gardener. Maybe I’ll find my truest self in some other piece of my puzzle’s framework. Or maybe all the other attributes of my character will just fade into the background of my identity and I’ll rise up as this plain, ordinary, regular human.

But for now, I’ve put those other pieces of me on the back burner. For now, I’m able to fully and somewhat exclusively embrace my mom identity more than any of the other characteristics that define me.

I can do that because I’m a privileged white mom.

I am privileged because I can listen to the morning news and get furious with the President of the United States. I can feel sickened by his words (or lack thereof), and then realize my daughter’s soccer uniform needs to be washed. Minutes later, I’m loading the washing machine and thinking everyone else in this family needs to pitch in more with the chore list. Mindlessly, I sink back into mom-mode.

I can do that because I’m a privileged white mom.

I wonder if I’d be as easily sidetracked with my daughter’s dirty soccer uniform if I was a black mom who witnessed hate-filled neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members marching through the darkness with blazing torches aglow.

I wonder if I’d be able to mindlessly sink back into my everyday mom-mode knowing that the same organization that publicly lynched individuals for wearing my children’s same skin color is now rising up once again and gaining an increased public platform to encourage violence, bigotry, xenophobia, and further articulate the voice of racial discrimination in my country.

I wonder if I could really feel the same sense of urgency about doing my family’s laundry if I was waiting around to see if the leader of my nation was willing to stand up and defend my children’s future against hate, and publicly denounce those who wish to incite violence against my family because of our skin tone.

I’m not suggesting black moms are too sidetracked with racism to wash their children’s soccer uniforms. I’m just speculating that if I were faced with such monumental concerns, I might not be so easily capable of shifting gears and exclusively focusing on mundane housework.

I am privileged because last week I got a $120 speeding ticket. I went home, beat myself up a little about wasting money, paid the ticket online, and within minutes I found myself distracted by my hungry 4-year-old. Without hesitation, I began dinner prep. Mindlessly, I sank back into mom-mode.

I can do that because I’m a privileged white mom.

I wonder if I’d be as easily distracted by my whining 4-year-old if I was a black mom sitting down to pay my ticket, reflecting on the fact that just last month an officer was acquitted for blatantly shooting and killing an innocent black man in front of his entire family after he simply and precisely followed the officer’s instructions during a routine traffic stop.

I wonder if I’d be able to mindlessly sink back into everyday mom-mode knowing that a simple speeding ticket could have been the worst, most traumatizing experience of my life.

I’m not suggesting that black moms are too distracted with the possibility of racially-fueled police violence to adequately provide care for their hungry children. I’m just speculating that if I were faced with such monumental concerns, I might not be so easily capable of shifting gears and blissfully, cheerfully engaging in the everyday, run-of-the-mill mom-mode responsibilities.

I am privileged because as I sit here today, writing these words to share with all of you in the hopes that it will shed some light on what white privilege looks like, I can’t help but wonder if I am adding something to my story that will offend my black mom friends.

That is the ignorance of white privilege: I don’t even know what hurts.

If I do offend, if I do add something to my story or leave something out that hurts someone else and he or she calls me out on it, will I become angry? Will I feel threatened? Will I jump to defend myself? Will I sympathize? Will I feel guilty?

One thing I’m sure about is that whatever I feel in that moment, there will also be a subsequent need to fill. A child will want a drink. Someone will need help finding her flip-flops. A teenager will need a ride to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I will fully and exclusively be able to embrace my mom identity more than any of the other characteristics that define me.

Mindlessly, I will sink back into mom-mode.

I am a white mom—that is my privilege.

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Relephant read:

The Legacy of Racism I Need to Own.

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Author: Kristin Fields Mauer
Image: Corinne Kutz/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Kristin Fields Mauer