Raising a Black son in the 21st century

male suspect arrested in the night city, with police flashers behind him

Feeling afraid is a natural feeling of being a new mom. We’ve all laid awake at night pondering questions like, “do I have what it takes to raise this tiny human being when I don’t have my own life figured out?” “Am I going to ruin this kid?” But soon after the birth of my now 20-year-old son, I became aware of a different kind of fear, one that is heartless and cutthroat at its core: I was responsible for raising a Black male, in America, that means my son has a target on his back.

What I hear from other Black moms and dads who are raising black children is that we all have one thing in common, we feel more fearful than ever. With the rise of killings of Black males murdered at the hands of police officers there is no surprise of the division in this country.

My natural reaction is to keep my son safe by sheltering him from the world, but I cannot shield him from the reality of what is happening in this nation. I’ve had “real” talks with him about the racism he is faced with. As a teenager I sent him to an event hosted at my church that educated young males on what to do if they were ever stopped by the police. I pray that he never finds himself in that position, my daily prayer is, “God protect him from police brutality and stray bullets”.

Studies show that nearly 70 percent of Black adults see these as “tough” or really bad times for Black children.” The majority stated that life is harder for Black children in today’s society than when they were kids. And, parental figures are worried about their child being victimized before reaching adulthood. On the ride to school I would pray with my son, pleading the blood of Jesus over his life and asking God to protect him throughout his day. With all the massive school shootings, there were times I worried, could my son’s school be next? I am thankful that God placed a hedge protection around him.

Given this serious issue, I think it’s good to talk about it.  Anytime we can remind each other that these alarming actions are based on reality helps us to educate our children. As intense as this conversation is, it’s a conversation every Black parent must have with their child, and it’s not fear—it’s reality! The enormity of what Black children face compared to other ethnic groups—cannot be ignored. For those of us who are black and are raising Black kids, the terror we feel is indescribable.


  1. I can 100% understand ypur point of view. My eldest son in now 22 years old and the worry is constant. My little one is 7 and my daughter between the boys is aged 15. I have been pleading the blood of Jesus over their lives always. And if they randomly flash thru my mind in a way that gives me unease I quote scriptures promptly. My son knows to text me just to let me know he’s ok. So these could be my words. Thank you for shining a light on this issue. Hopefully we can have some dialogue going.

    1. It is a heartbreaking reality of raising black sons in America. We can do everything in our power so that they don’t acquire any negative stereotype however we cannot shield them from the harsh reality, all we can do is our best to educate our children.

      The topic of race is an uncomfortable discussion which is why I think there isn’t much dialogue on this discussion. As a mother of an African American 20 year old male, I have worries that other mothers of other ethnic groups don’t have to worry about. I also have been educated by my Apostle who wrote an very interesting book on church history call the Five Watersheds of Theology (I invite you to check it out drdanacarson.org) and I want to share with others.

      Racism is and will always be a sensitive topic and most of us want to pretend that it doesn’t exist anymore. I am a woman of God but I’m also an African American woman whose heart is heavy and cares about the injustices of this world and I am not going to live in an ignorantly bliss bubble and pretend that racism is something of the distant past. I would like to thank Temitope Michael-O for asking me to write my thoughts and advice on this topic. And, I would like to thank you for stopping by and sharing your contributions to this discussion.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. The silence of the Church keeps racism alive. Thank God we can bring our children before the throne room, put angels to work and surround our children with favor as a shield. Our children will not be victims of racial injustice because if God be for us, who can be against us? There is hope and we will continue to use our voice and prayers to silence the spirit of racism. I wasn’t sure it was okay to discuss racism with one’s child. Thank you for your thorough post. Your post inspires hope while revealing the reality of Black parents from all walks of life. God bless you!🙏

            1. For parents of young children, the journey of raising them in the fear and admonition of the Lord is instilling in them respect for God and His authority. The scripture says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

              Teaching them principles such as: God is all powerful, God always keeps His promises, God gives us commandments that we must obey, even if mama can’t see what you’re doing God sees it because He is everywhere, God disciplines us because He loves us.

              In order to gain wisdom we must know how to apply God’s word to life situations. So to grow in wisdom, our children must first learn God’s word–Who is God? What is truth? Who is man? Who is Jesus?

              Youth are asking themselves, who am I? where am I going? How do I get there? Where do I fit in? This is an important time of teaching them their identity so that they don’t seek the world to tell them who they are. Older teens are dealing with deeper things, teens need to hear our stories about who we were before Christ came into our lives , we have to tell them our testimony. They also need to see you be transparent, if you don’t have an answer or you’ve made a mistake, admit it. There needs to be an open dialogue between you them so they know they can also come to you, and yes seek God for direction, you have to rely on Him, parenting is hard enough but trying to do it in your own strength and ability will have you pulling your hair out. Also, make sure your sons have positive male mentors in the church to help teach them how to be a man, if need be ask your Pastor how this can be done.

              I hope this helps you! Indeed, it’s not easy raising a male in 21 century America but God gives us the grace to do so.

          1. I believe where one is living and the child’s age determines the degree of concern. My son cannot be considered a threat, he doesn’t drive yet, and he I determine where he goes. This makes me less weary compared to parents of teens and adults. Nevertheless, this helps me prepare for the future. I believe parents of teens and adults can relate a lot more.
            Readers living in Africa may find this post interesting but can’t relate (we have a lot of Nigerian readers😉)

            As a Nigerian-American, my experience with racism is somewhat different from yours and other African-Americans. This affects the differences in our interpretation of racism. I feel like I am not in the position to write about racism because I have very limited experience and it’s a bit shallow. My words will perhaps not do justice to the issue.

            1. I understand how you feel Temi. Yet and still racism in America does not have an age limit on it. The fact that your son is still a black male some racist people in society still perceive him as a threat because of in their mind what he may grow up to be. There was a nine year old boy, playing in the park with a toy gun and the police officer shot and killed him.

              We may have different encounters and experiences as it relates to racism but the common factor is when a racist person sees someone of color they see a threat.

            2. I felt your pain during this post. I have seen on the news the level of racism in the US and it’s very scary. In the UK, the racism I have encountered is somewhat subtle and indirect. It still hurts. Thank you for sharing this. I will be praying about this.

  3. As a white mom, with two blond-haired blue-eyed white sons, what can I do to raise them to not contribute to racism, prejudice, and violence?
    I know you have insights into what is needed which I will never be able to gain on my own, and I honestly want to know.
    My husband and I think we are doing our best, but that is based only on our own knowledge so our best is already missing important pieces. I know the most important part is teaching them to love and obey God. I’m just wondering, in light of your and Temi’s posts, what else would help?

    1. I want to sincerely thank you for your comment Sara and honest question. Thank you for being sensitive to this topic.

      I would say teaching your sons the positive contributions of African Americans as well as the equality of all people and what the scriptures teaches in (Acts 17:26). Make sure your sons also know that there is no preferred people that God has created, meaning that no ethnic group is better than the other. Just like God so loved the world we have to reflect His love for all cultures and races of people.