I am a black mother of a black child in America, and that means that I carry an abnormal desire not only to ensure my child’s safety but to actively pursue and defend it. I learned this from my ancestors. From the time I was a child, I’ve been made aware of this burden.
Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes, informed us in his poem, “Mother to Son,”
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goinn’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
This is a narrative of a woman who is not wanted in her country, and yet she wants the best for her son. She tells him that in spite of her reality and the ever-present darkness in her life, he must keep going, he must not turn back, he must not fall, and he must continue to climb higher.
She keeps climbing because she wants a better life for herself and her son. That’s what all decent humans want for their offspring, a better life and the opportunity to keep climbing in spite of the darkness.
As I reflect on this artistic work, I am reminded of the human need and desire to survive. I am also heartbroken by the mothers who have similar words to say to their children, but maybe now they are saying it with a little less hope or maybe their children can no longer hear their voices at all because they have been separated.
Continue reading at Missio Alliance.
 Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47559/mother-to-son