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Our Black Sons Matter

Mothers Talk about Fears, Sorrows, and Hopes

Edited by George Yancy; Maria del Guadalupe Davidson and Susan Hadley - Afterword by Farah Jasmine Griffin

Hardback
eBook
Our Black Sons Matter is a powerful collection of original essays, letters, and poems that addresses both the deep joys and the very real challenges of raising black boys today. From Trayvon Martin to Tamir Rice, the list of young black men who have suffered racial violence continues to grow. Young black people also deal with profound stereotypes and structural barriers. And yet, young black men are often paradoxically revered as icons of cultural cool. Our Black Sons Matter features contributions from women across the racial spectrum who are raising or have raised black sons—whether biologically their sons or not. The book courageously addresses painful trauma, challenges assumptions, and offers insights and hope through the deep bonds between mothers and their children. Both a collective testimony and a collective love letter, Our Black Sons Matter sends the message that black lives matter and speaks with the universal love of all mothers who fear for the lives of their children.

Contributions by Jacki Lynn Baynks, Shelly Bell, Deborah Binkley-Jackson, Meta G. Carstarphen, LaMar Delandro, Gretchen Givens Generett, Jane Anna Gordon, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, Susan Hadley, Carol E. Henderson, Dawn Herd-Clark, Elisheba Johnson, Heather Johnson, Newtona (Tina) Johnson, Jane Lazarre, Sara Lomax-Reese, Tracey McCants Lewis, Nicole McJamerson, Michele Moody-Adams, Elisha Oliver, Blanche Radford-Curry, Autumn Redcross, Tracey Reed Armant, Noliwe Rooks, T. Denean, Sharpley-Whiting, Treasure Shields Redmond, Sharyn Skeeter, Becky Thompson, Linda D. Tomlinson, Dyan Watson, Veronica T. Watson, Regina Sims Wright, Karsonya Wise Whitehead, and George Yancy.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 240Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-6911-8 • Hardback • October 2016 • $34.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4422-6912-5 • eBook • October 2016 • $33.99 • (£23.95)
George Yancy is professor of philosophy at Emory University, where he specializes in the study of African American philosophy and critical philosophy of race. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times blog “The Stone” and is author or editor of a number of books, including the award-winning Philosophy in Multiple Voices and Black Bodies, White Gazes.

Maria del Guadalupe Davidson directs the women’s and gender studies program and co-directs the center for social justice at the University of Oklahoma.

Susan Hadley is professor of music and director of music therapy at Slippery Rock University. She is author or editor of several books, including Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip Hop.
Acknowledgments
Introduction: For the Love of Our Sons, by George Yancy

I: REFLECTIONS

1. Black Mother/Sons, by Sara Lomax-Reese
2. Once White in America, by Jane Lazarre
3. A Bottle of Mike Brown and Robin Williams, by Shelly Bell
4. Dark Radiance, by Becky Thompson and LaMar Delandro
5. Why Being the Lone Black Friend of Whites Will Not Protect You, by Noliwe Rooks
6. The Box,by Tracey Reed Armant
7. White Mama, Black Sons, by Heather Johnson
8. Watching and Waiting, by Nicole McJamerson
9. The Trouble I’ve Seen . . . and Why It Matters, by Meta G. Carstarphen
10. Inside/Outside, by Susan Hadley
11. Black and Blue: Stressing through to Dialogue, by Deborah Binkley-Jackson
12. A Black Jewish Boy Facing Manhood, by Jane Anna Gordon

II: ESSAYS

13. Sacrificial Lambs : How Many Dead Bodies Is Enough?, by Carol E. Henderson
14. Reflections of Black Motherhood: Birthing Black Sons, by Linda D. Tomlinson
15. The War Within: Respect and the Predicament ofMothering Black Sons, by Newtona (Tina) Johnson
16. A Long Ways from Home?, by Michele Moody-Adams
17. T.H.U.G. (Talented, Humanistic, Unique, Gifted): Anthropology, Sentiments, and Narratives of Black Mothers and Sons, by Elisha Oliver
18. A Fierce Love: The Unique Process of Nurturing, Educating, and Protecting Our Black Sons, by Tracey McCants Lewis
19. Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, by Veronica T. Watson
20. Mothers and Their Black Sons: Struggling against Fears, Sorrows, and Hope, by Blanche Radford-Curry
21. Regarding Henry, by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting

III: POEMS

22. A Love Poem for Michael Brown, by Elisheba Johnson
23. Lamentations from a Black Mom, by Dyan Watson
24. for Trayvon, by Treasure Shields Redmond
25. News of You, My Son, by Sharyn Skeeter
26. Death Passes Twice, by Autumn Redcross

IV: LETTERS

27. Dear William, by Gretchen Givens Generett
28. A Letter to CJ, by Regina Sims Wright
29. Killing/Saving/Loving Black Boys, by Karsonya Wise Whitehead
30. Anger, by Jacki Lynn Baynks
31. A Letter to Dr. King: Please Keep Breathing, by Maria del Guadalupe Davidson
32. A Letter to My Sons, by Dawn Herd-Clark

Afterword by Farah Jasmine Griffin
Notes
Resources
Index
About the Contributors
For mothers of black sons, the basic concerns of motherhood are compounded by worry about whether their sons will even survive to manhood. This collection gives voice to that concern as women (mostly, though not all black) from a range of ages, religions, and nationalities write of their hopes and fears for their black sons. The editors begin by discussing how the fear of young black men heightens the threat to their lives as they become objects of suspicion and violence, bloodshed that is often justified as protection of the broader, read white, society. In poems, letters, and essays, the contributors recount now-infamous cases from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin and their own day-to-day encounters with the racism that threaten the lives of their sons. Many describe the transformation from their sons’ childhood cuteness to the 'threat' adolescents represent, others learn the hard lessons of racism as their adopted sons grow into young black men. One mother navigates the painful experience of her son suffering from depression and her concerns about a counselor who couldn’t see beyond his skin color. This collection offers powerful and thoughtful reflections on the impact of racism on black males and the women who witness and offer as much love and protection as they can.
Booklist, Starred Review


Our Black Sons Matter honors black sons and loving mothers. Striking a blues note, testifying across racial, ethnic, religious, and national lines, devoted mothers lift up stories of hope and fear inherent in raising black sons in racist societies. Their stirring, tender pain harmonizes with tough, penetrating love, defiance, and resilient joy, as each page celebrates black sons’ uncompromising dignity and immeasurable value. A profoundly resonating soul call affirming black humanity, this compelling collection tells a poignant story demanding an equally audacious response.
Kathy Glass, Duquesne University


This rich volume has much to teach us about race, inequality, the burdens placed upon families called to explain to their young black children why they can’t expect fair treatment, and about whiteness—the lengths it will go to preserve its false innocence. The courageous stories, essays, letters, and poems collected here should move all who read them to do more to challenge the status quo in the United States, to change how we live together, so that mothers of black sons will know that their children will be seen by all as valuable and vulnerable equal human beings.
Jill Stauffer, Haverford College


Before I finished the last word of Our Black Sons Matter, two police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana murdered 37-year-old Alton Sterling. Captured on film, Sterling became another black son lost to death, engulfed by the unremitting onslaught that birthed this book. My mother’s voice is woven into each of these lines, my aunts, my sisters—so many mothers of black sons whose voices had been muted become vibrant here—with loss, with sadness, rage, hope. There is nothing more urgent than what they demand: safe passage. When Treasure Shields Redmond writes “why can’t a black boy born alive stay that way” in her elegy for Trayvon Martin, she articulates our question and our demand. This is the urgency that defines our time; the voices collected here make it obvious why that urgency matters.
Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of A Question of Freedom


Timely, reflective, and critically conscious, Our Black Sons Matter is a must-read for all concerned about the lives of Black boys and men. The voices in this anthology will strengthen the experience of all who fight for freedom and liberation on behalf of our Black sons. Without a doubt, the narratives in this collection evoke the collective unconscious. They sing of love and resistance, and they will remain pillars of counternarratives for all those who resist racioethnic oppression, hegemony, prejudice, and discrimination. Our Black Sons Matter is a necessary resource in the fight for our Black sons.
Cherrel Miller Dyce, Elon University


This collection transcends—and so should influence—the insights of pundits, politicians, policy makers, and police in their estimations of black males. Black sons matter, in part, because they are expressions of the political will and desires of mothering that demands the rights of children in a violent, unstable world. Bypassing both the demagogic and the wistful, Our Black Sons Matter weaves a “web to entangle the powers that bury” family and society.
Joy James, author of Seeking the Beloved Community


Features diverse mothers of black sons addressing this challenging topic in their own compelling words

Contributors are academics, writers, poets, and more, all united in their love for their children, whether biological or not

Introduction from George Yancy highlights key themes and provides helpful background

Includes a Resources section with suggestions for readers who wish to take action or find solidarity

Contributions by Jacki Lynn Baynks, Shelly Bell, Deborah Binkley-Jackson, Meta G. Carstarphen, LaMar Delandro, Gretchen Givens Generett, Jane Anna Gordon, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Maria del Guadalupe Davidson, Susan Hadley, Carol E. Henderson, Dawn Herd-Clark, Elisheba Johnson, Heather Johnson, Newtona (Tina) Johnson, Jane Lazarre, Sara Lomax-Reese, Tracey McCants Lewis, Nicole McJamerson, Michele Moody-Adams, Elisha Oliver, Blanche Radford-Curry, Autumn Redcross, Tracey Reed Armant, Noliwe Rooks, T. Denean, Sharpley-Whiting, Treasure Shields Redmond, Sharyn Skeeter, Becky Thompson, Linda D. Tomlinson, Dyan Watson, Veronica T. Watson, Regina Sims Wright, Karsonya Wise Whitehead, and George Yancy.

• Winner, Booklist - Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction (2017)
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