Let me start by saying that I loved this book. I loved how the author, Martina, starts right at the beginning, with her father when he was a boy, and his childhood, and the impact that he had on her life. I loved her brutal honesty on every page. I loved how she shared her fears and insecurities in a way that made me feel like I could relate to her on so many levels. With this book, I feel like Martina has put into words a lot of the thoughts that I have had over the last few years.
Easily, the quote that stands out the most for me in this book; the paragraph that has a struck a cord so deeply within me, is this:
“In my white circles there was growing consensus that I was overdoing things, that I was too hard on myself, too pessimistic, that I should worry less, that I was doing ‘a good thing’ by raising you. Meanwhile, a black mother looked at her baby son, measuring out in pinpricks of fear the time she had left until he would stop being cute to white people and turn into a threat that would have to be dealt with.” [Page 194]
This entire paragraph has stayed with me since I finished reading this book. When I think of the book, even when I look at this book, I immediately think of this paragraph. I particularly think of the part where the black mother is fearful of the time that will come where her son is no longer considered to be a cute kid. Instead, he will become someone who society says you should keep your eye on. Society preaches that if you see him walking down the road, hold onto your handbag a little tighter. Because of this, you might even peer out of your lounge window one weekday morning; see him walking down the road in your lovely neighbourhood with it’s perfectly manicured lawns, and feel the need to send a message of warning or concern to your friendly neighbourhood what’s app group.
This paragraph has got me thinking, just how much longer until this is the reality for my son? How much longer until my sweet boy, with adorable dimples and a smile that melts any and all hearts, is not seen as just a boy with a charming smile and delightful nature? How much longer until he is harshly judged, purely because of the colour of his skin? And how will I, his white mom, prepare him for this reality?
What am I doing now to prepare him for then?
How are we as his white parents educating ourselves on the harsh realities that face black people today?
As a white South African, this book was difficult to read in the sense that it challenged my white worldview and perspective. But, man oh man, was it necessary for me to read it. Thanks to Martina and Tumi (Martina’s friend who shares her side of the story throughout the book), and the fact that they shared their stories in such an unapologetically honest way, I’ve realised where I need to do better, for the sake of my son. I’ve realized which topics and issues I need to educate myself on more, so that I can and will be the best white mom my son needs me to be.
Will I re-read this book? Absolutely!
Will I recommend this book to friends, family, those who are considering adoption or anyone looking for a thought provoking book to read? One hundred percent I will!
This book will challenge your thinking. It will make you feel uncomfortable. It will open your eyes to the realities of life in South Africa for black people.
It will break your heart for the better.
*Modjaji Books sent me a copy of this book to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.