What follows is adapted, lightly edited, from a blog post by Claudia Hufham of Greensboro, with a contribution from her friend Angelia Bobbitt:
I have struggled with this post for a week now.
I already had written my next post. I was happy with and it was ready to go.
But then a police officer killed George Floyd and I couldn’t ignore that.
What I had written originally suddenly felt frivolous. I didn’t want it to seem as if I were ignoring what was going on or just not paying attention.
Let me tell you, I am paying attention. As the mother of a police officer, I am paying attention. As a friend of black mothers and fathers, I am paying attention.
My friend Angelia and I work together. Our sons have been good friends since middle school. As this all unfolded, I thought about my friend every day. I needed to reach out to her.
Now that we are working from home, we hadn’t seen each other in months. I needed to tell her that I was thinking about her and her sons. That I ached for them and worried about them.
Checking on your friends
This past Monday, Angelia sent me a text message to check on Keegan.
“Hey Sista! How is Keegan? I worry about him as much as I worry about D. You guys are in my prayers. Please tell him to stay safe.”
I responded, telling her that I had been thinking about her and her sons, how angry Keegan is and how scared I am. She reassured me that the majority of people, including the black community, knows that not all cops are bad, and no one wants violence. She went on to explain that there are many people who are in pain and fed up. They are angry and people say and do things in anger.
These messages brought tears to my eyes.
I should have been the one reaching out to her. I should have been the one consoling her.
But she knew exactly what to say. She has always had that gift. She doesn’t sugarcoat things; she tells me like it is and I appreciate that.
As we exchanged messages, there it was, the idea for the post. I asked her if she would be willing to write a letter to her son for the blog and I would write a letter to my son as well.
Two mothers of boys— well, men — whom they adore. On what seem like opposite sides of the fight.
Angelia to her son DeAngelo
My dearest first-born,
The year 1993 changed my life in all the right ways. For the first time I felt I had a real purpose in this world and that was to nurture and protect you to become the best individual you could be. I knew there would be challenges, but none like the ones that we face today.
Let me first say how proud I am that you have exceeded all of my expectations and you are without a doubt the best son a mother could ask for. For that I thank you. I want you to know that no matter the obstacles you may face in this world, I am there for you always to fight for and with you for your place in this world.
With that being said, I cannot deny that fear lives in my heart along with the love I have for you.
When you were a baby, I could protect you, shield you from hate and preserve your innocence for as long as I could because I knew, unfortunately, that children of color aren’t given that luxury. You’re not allowed the benefit of the doubt and a future in this country may be out of reach.
As a mother, to look at your son and know that life for him will be a constant fight to be treated equally to his peers — and stay alive while doing it — is heartbreaking.
This is why I praised you for all your accomplishments, no matter how small, as you matured because I wanted to build in you a strong foundation of self-worth and confidence because I knew you were going to have to go up against the worst case of bullying that no human being should have to endure. I had to teach you how to maneuver through the two different societies that people like us live in — the double standards, the systemic racism.
When you were a teen and you would go out with your friends you would call me and tell me you’re alive and breathing in jest. But we both knew in the back of our minds the true significance of that joke. Thank you for thinking of me and calming my fears.
I love you,
And to all the mothers that can no longer see, hear, hug and tell your child that you love them, know that you are not alone in your grieving. Mothers all over the world pray for and grieve with you.
My letter to my son
My dearest Keegan,
You are one of the greatest blessings in my life. I am now and have always been so proud of you. You are smart and level-headed and have a good soul, my boy. I knew that those traits would make you a good police officer. But yet I worry. I worry that the job will take those things away from you. That you will become jaded.
As a mother, I have put those worries away and have learned to lean into the good things. To help you, as much as I can, to accomplish your hopes and dreams. Thriving in the good times and hopefully learning something in the bad times. There is no way that I could love you more and I am so proud of all you have accomplished.
I cherish the fact that I am your mother and I love you with a fierce devotion that defies measurement. I honor your choices, your desires, your difficulties, your life.
I know that we, as a family, have armed you with all the things you need to be a good person and a good police officer: humility, compassion, respect for others, knowing right from wrong, loyalty.
As I struggle with all that’s going on in our country, the hatred some have toward you as a police officer, it makes me so mad, I can’t lie. They don’t know you.
But as Maya Angelou once said, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Stay true to yourself, my love. Remember who you are and what you stand for.
Don’t let anyone take away your fire for what you know is right. Know that I will always be in front of you to protect you, beside you so that you know you are not alone or behind you when you need me.
Two mothers who love their sons. One knows that not only does she have to prepare her son for the everyday struggles of a man, she also must teach him how to survive the racism that exists every day. Something that never crosses the other mother’s mind.
I love my friend Angelia and her boys. She has made me realize that it’s not our differences that divide us. It’s our inability to recognize and accept those differences.
I promise to do better, to not look the other way, to not pretend that racism doesn’t exist. I promise to stand beside her in what seems like a never ending-battle.
It’s time. It’s way past time.