This poem and its title “Black Mother’s Advice to Son” written by my mother Sebah (Helen), inspired me to start a section on this blog about raising Black Boys. I found it while going through my mothers poems, stories and writings. It remained me of my childhood and the home I was raised in and the love and parenting I got from my mother and family. This will be the first in the series.
My mothers name was Helen (Sebah) Watts – Thomason. She was a Musician (pianist from the age of 4), Teacher and Educator (there is a difference), Poet, Author (wrote her first book in her 70s), Historian, Thinker, Creative, Scholar, Avid reader and writer, and her library and music/vinyl collection is incredible.
My mother’s adopted African name was “Sebah”. The name Sebah also has Arabic, Turkish and Muslim origins from what I’ve been told. I’m no scholar on names and languages. She chose this name because it best reflects who she was. A teacher. And that she was – both in her profession as an educator in the public school system and among her family, friends and peers. Not only was she a teacher, she was a reader – and that inspired me to read.
I was inspired to do this primarily because over the years I’m constantly being asked by single mothers (of all races), “what did your mother do to raise you.” Which implies that I turned out half-way decent. I’ve always tried to give advice where and when I could.
Black Boys are in crisis
Parenting advice. And parenting in general is challenging. Especially today with so many outside influences competing for your child’s attention.
What I plan to do here is offer some advice on raising black boys from me and through my Mom with her poems and letters to me. I hope you find it helpful on your parenting journey.
I don’t think there is an exact science to it. Every child is different. The only constant that I can tell is LOVE. You gotta Love your kids. And Love them unconditionally.
As you see in the second paragraph of the poem my Mom says “While I was oblivious to the truth, I was always strong in my love for you”.
If any parent ever loved their kid, my Mom loved me! I never questioned that. And in turn my love for her was unconditional.
Please note. Most of my Mom’s poems, like this one – where written on her 1935 vintage IBM typewriter. It took me years to get my Mom comfortable writing on a computer with word processing software.
I don’t know the statistics off hand, but what I do know that young black boys and black men are in crisis. I hope my blog will be able to do this subject matter justice – because we need it. I’m not an eloquent writer who is going to use a lot of fancy words you don’t understand. I want to put things in plain English. Easy enough that a even a middle schooler could read these articles and understand.
I’m a Black Man and a Black Son.
My mother raised me as a single parent after my parents were divorced when I was around four years old. My father was never really any part of my life after that. But she didn’t raise me alone. She had a “village.” It consisted of my maternal Grandparents Wesley and Addie Bell, my uncles Jim and Gerald and my aunt Xenobia. When people ask me “what was it like growing up without a father in the house?” I tell them, I don’t know cause I had three! My Grandfather and my uncles where my surrogate fathers.
Black Boys need Black men in their lives
They don’t have to be their biological father or Grandfather or uncles as in my case. But they need men. And preferably men that look like them if possible. I’m not saying they can’t learn from men of other races and backgrounds – it just helps (in my opinion) if the men can truly to relate to the boys on all levels – including racial background.
My mothers advice: Read the Book of Proverbs