By Carolyn Roncolato
We are an adoptive family. Our son is black and my partner and I are white. This has been a particularly intense year to be white parents of an African American boy and to deal with the complexities of transracial adoption. It seems that every week there is yet another story of white brutalization of African American men and women.
In the midst of the violence I have and continue to pray for the wisdom of black mothers. I need to know how you have survived the constant threat to the safety of your children. I want to know how you have had the courage to send them out into the world knowing the harm that could come. I want to know how to keep my spirit alive and my anger from overwhelming me when the world treats my most beloved as dangerous, disposable, or invisible. I need to know how to foster our children’s creativity, resistance, and resilience in the midst of a de-humanizing system.
According to process theology, God has this wisdom, not only in the abstract “God knows everything” way, but insofar as God is made up of concrete human experience. God knows not only what happens to us but what it feels like to be us. This means God has deep within Her centuries of black mothers’ experience and wisdom.
I learn a lot from the black women in my life. But when they are understandably tired from fighting their own fights, when they are sick of my whiteness, when they need black only space, this black mother God stays with me. She remains there when I am panicked, tired, sad, and scared. I can trust Her to see my son’s wholeness, to love his darkness, to celebrate his heritage, to know his ancestors. I don’t need a generic or neutral God without race or gender. I need a particular God who has the wisdom and knows the experience of women who have raised black boys in the United States.
I will never know what it is to be black. There is no amount of studying, talking, relating, or loving that will give me the black experience. But I need to worship, celebrate, be comforted by, and learn from a God who does. A God who looks like me or has only the experiences and knowledge of my ancestors is insufficient. I am grateful that God is not my mirrored reflection, thankful that God is made up of the creativity, resistance, and resilience of so many other peoples and communities. These days, this is my comfort and salvation.