An Open Letter To The Mothers of Baltimore on Mother’s Day

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”  –Matthew 2:18, NIV

Today, on Mother’s Day, no one will be bringing you breakfast in bed or signing your crumpled up card with cereal splashed on it.  The people who would celebrate you: your fathers, uncles, brothers, nephews, sons, are in jail or in boxes.  On Mother’s Day, like every other day, you’re living in a war zone.

This is your story:

“This was my home. This was my family. These were my friends. But they were ghosts now. There were few men looking out for the neighborhood any longer.

What’s left are boys trying to figure out how to be men — and how to avoid getting “big numbers” or ending up in ‘pine boxes.'”


Your men are gone, and everyone else is speaking for you, about what’s gone wrong, what needs to change, and how it can be done.

On Mother’s Day, this is what I want you to know:

  • YOU are the widows and the childless.
  • YOU are the ones who spell Trauma with a capital “T”.  Not just during the riots but every other day of the year.
  • YOU are the ones left counting fingers and toes to make sure the ones that leave the house in the morning come home.
  • YOU are the father, mother, wife, daughter–mourner–all in one.
  • YOU are the bone tired and overlooked.
  • YOU are the ones broken by broken systems.
  • YOU are the ones who would rather slap your boys today than find them in cells or boxes tomorrow.
  • YOU are the gatekeepers.
  • YOU are the fierce momma bear, protecting her cubs.
  • YOU are the shell shocked and battle worn.
  • IF there are stories to be heard, they are yours–not mine, not the talking heads, not the media’s.
  • IF there is healing, redemption even, it will be your victory.

While “we” reflect on what needs to change from a lofty perch, you are the ones too bone tired from work and grief to weigh in.

I’m a White momma raising a Black boy in Baltimore.  I can’t pretend to know your past, but you better believe I’m listening to your present, and I’m both afraid and hopeful for your future, for Baltimore’s future.

Mothers of Baltimore, you are the ones we need to hear from.  If healing will happen, it will happen through you.  YOU are the gatekeepers.  You ARE the gatekeepers.  You are THE gatekeepers.

Please, come forward and share your stories.