Mother to Son

Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope

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Pub Date 24 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 15 May 2020

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Christianity Today Book Award "Wynn is my son. No little boy could be more loved by his parents. Inquisitive, fiercely affectionate, staunchly opinionated, he sees the world through eyes of wonder and has yet to become jaded by society's cruelty. I know he'll grow up with stories of having been made to feel 'other' because of the color of his skin. I want to teach him that, though life's unfair, he still has incomparable value in the eyes of his heavenly Father. I know this wondrous little person has the potential to change the world—and I want him to know it too." In Mother to Son, Jasmine Holmes shares a series of powerful letters to her young son. These are about her journey as an African American Christian and what she wants her son to know as he grows and approaches the world as a black man. Holmes deals head-on with issues ranging from discipleship and marriage to biblical justice. She invites us to read over her shoulder as she reminds Wynn that his identity is firmly planted in the person and work of Jesus Christ, even when the topic is one as emotionally charged as race in America.

Christianity Today Book Award "Wynn is my son. No little boy could be more loved by his parents. Inquisitive, fiercely affectionate, staunchly opinionated, he sees the world through eyes of...

Advance Praise

"These letters are personal and yet applicable to us all. With child or without. Brown or white. Married or single. We may not all understand what it is to be her, a black mother with a brown boy, but we all understand what it is like to love, to care so deeply for someone that affection becomes words."
-From the foreword by Jackie Hill Perry

"Jasmine Holmes's Mother to Son is written for a far larger audience than just her own children; she has delivered a literary benediction to grace our bookshelves, challenge our earthly cultures, strengthen our feeble hearts, and point us toward lasting hope."
-K. A. Ellis, Cannada Fellow and Director, the Center for the Study of the Bible and Ethnicity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta

"What a privilege to sit at the feet of Jasmine Holmes in these pages. In order to navigate her way through one of the thorniest conversations today—race in America—Holmes has relied on biblical wisdom to convey hard-yet-hopeful truths to her son. So much is yet to be done to repair the sins of the past; so much is still possible through the church of Jesus Christ, who carried our burdens and become the way of reconciliation."
-Jen Pollock Michel, author of Surprised by Paradox and Keeping Place

"Mother to Son is more than a collection of heartfelt letters of a young mother to her new son. Mother to Son is a missive to America and to the church about what it looks like to hope, to fear, to long, to risk, and to love—all while instilling in ourselves and in those we love and are called to lead both a sense of belonging in the present and a call to invest in a future of greater flourishing for us all."
-Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

"These letters are personal and yet applicable to us all. With child or without. Brown or white. Married or single. We may not all understand what it is to be her, a black mother with a brown boy...

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ISBN 9780830832767
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Featured Reviews

Mother to Son Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope by Jasmine L. Holmes InterVarsity Press IVP Christian Pub Date 24 Mar 2020 I am reviewing a copy of Mother and Son through Intervarsity Press and Netgalley: In this beautifully heartfelt and since book Jasmine Holmes shares these beautiful letters that she has written for her young son.  She tells her son that he was her redemption, and that he is the next step in his legacy.  She reminds him too that he is the son of parents who are trying to make a difference in the Church.  And she reminds him, as well as we the readers that Children are not meant to be the shadows of their parents, Jasmine reminds her son, and us that Children are created with individual worth and value before the Father, that children are not meant to bloom in the shadows of their parents. Jasmine goes on to remind her son that he is a black boy, and that there are times people will react to him differently because of the Color of his skin.  She reminds him too that she's not saying these things to Jade him, and he reminds him not to live his life ruled by fear.  Jasmine reminds her Son's that first and foremost they are Children of God.  She reminds her son's that they are made in God's image, and that in fact they are black on purpose, as well as that they are God's beloved Son's.  This heartfelt book reminds Jasmine's Sons, that they are unique gifts from God, that they are very much loved. In this series of letters Jasmine deals with everything from the political climate, to personal racists attacks, and so much more wanting to remind her son that when he is old enough, that these are not okay, it does not mean he won't get through them by the Grace of God. I found Mother to Son, Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope to be a profound and heartfelt book, one that could open up discussions on Idenity and hope! Five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

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I have loved following Jasmine Holmes on Instagram and keeping up with her writing on her blog; her articles and posts are always thought-provoking and beautifully written. I've been looking forward to reading her new book, Mother to Son, and it didn't disappoint! The book is written as a series of letters to Jasmine's oldest son, Wynn. It's a unique format that turned out to be perfect for tackling some tough issues surrounding race, identity, and the church. Her mother’s heart shines through as she speaks truth with grace and love for her sons and for all of us - fellow believers and people who seek to understand and build relationships with those around us. Her writing is beautiful: kind and vulnerable while also bold and convicting. This book is timely and heartfelt, and the message is much-needed in today's political and cultural climate, both in and outside the church. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Jasmine Holmes has written a powerful collection of letters which gives advice to her black son on how the world will see him and on how he should behave in this world. However, the book of letters is also written for the white evangelical church who tends to ignore the issues of race and justice. Holmes’ book echoes other notable epistles like Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Coates’ Between the World and Me. It also has elements that reminded me of Austin Channing Brown’s I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. Unlike Coates but like Baldwin and Brown, Holmes’ book comes from a Christian perspective, one which is needed now more than ever. This book is written primarily to her son. She encourages and warns him of various things. For example, she writes to her son that God made you black on purpose and that it is a good thing. She also warns him of the racial insensitivities that are sure to come his way as he gets older. One example Holmes uses occurred in the past when various white people remarked on her son’s cuteness by asking “how much do you want for him?”. The author and her husband unfortunately had to educate these people about how that question sounds to a black family who lives with the history of slavery everyday. Holmes is very powerful when she criticizes the white church on its antipathy to talk about racial issues. One powerful moment in the book was when she wrote about how white evangelicals tend to mention that slavery was a blind spot in American history. She argues that blind spots do not lead to the dehumanization of a people who are made in God’s image. Slavery she argues is not a blind spot it's a sin. In another episode she mentions the buzz phrase that white evangelicals use when racial issues are discussed, “just preach the gospel”. In her experiences in mostly white evangelical spaces, “just preach the gospel” means “just shut up”. They wanted her to just talk about the salvation that Jesus brings to all and let the racial issues take care of themself. But as Holmes effectively argues, talking about Jesus’ salvation is good and important but racial issues are never solved by ignoring them, they must be addressed and faced head on. Near the end of the book Holmes gives advice to her son about the importance of speaking out about the issues he cares about. She highlights the challenge that she faces when she speaks before groups and how she is viewed by people on the political left and political right. Both groups try to pigeon hole and label her as being the opposite of their own views. I’ll be honest, there were times in this book that I did the same thing from my own political perspective. However, her advice to her son is to not worry about this and encourages him to speak out with conviction. Lastly, Holmes focuses on the importance of representation not just in the media but also in theology. Holmes introduces three pastors, only one of whom I was familiar with before reading this book (Lemuel Haynes, Charles Octavius Boothe, and Francis Grimke). After mentioning them she writes a powerful line that I believe was written not just to her son and the white evangelical church but to black Christians like myself. She says that the truth of God is not limited to only white voices. It was a powerful quote to me and it has now challenged me to go out and read the works of these black theologians that I’m not familiar with. As I read this book, I imagined what my own black mother would have written to me. My mother’s experiences were unlike Holmes in that they grew up at different times (I’m in Holmes’ generation) and experienced different albeit similar experiences. But the essence of Holmes’ message would be the same as my mother. The racist society that you live in will view you one way because you are a black male, it's your job to challenge and show them how they are wrong, using your Christian faith as your anchor. Holmes’s book is a must read for black Christian sons, black Christian mothers, and the white evangelical church. It will definitely bring about fruitful discussions amongst its readers.

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I loved Jasmine Holmes' beautiful book of letters to her son. Though I am not black myself, I found these letters deeply moving. I mourned (again) for the experience of people of color in this country, and in the Church. I hope these letters will be read by many as a way to encourage a different path forward. I have a young son myself, and I could resonate with Jasmine's love for her son and her desires for his relationship with God as well as his growth and his future. I highly recommend this book for anyone, regardless of your skin tone. It will encourage you to think and is a great book to discuss with those in your personal community.

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I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Netgalley. I cried reading Jasmine’s words to her son. In one letter she wrote, “He made you a little black boy on purpose. He stuck you into this particular moment of history with intention. I am not your mama on accident.” I am an adoptive mother—a white mother raising a beautiful black boy. And while I know it’s not an accident that I’m his mother, I realize there will be things he experiences in his life that my husband and I will not be able to relate to and maybe not even understand. As a mom, that’s hard. And therefore, I’m thankful for the author’s words. I’m thankful she shared her thoughts, her worries, her prayers, her hopes and her dreams for her two boys. This series of letters, though, are not just for mothers. They’re for everyone. This book gives an eye-opening look at some blind spots the church has—toward racism, injustice and hard conversations. The author touches hard topics with grace, humor and biblical wisdom.

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I loved reading this book! The author in her letters to her son presented such a loving and God centered approach about her concerns for her son in our present culture. This is work that displays her biblical knowledge and application. It is a book that will offer challenges our thinking especially to those of us who have not recognized our status of white privilege and how it isolates us from the pain and suffering of others. Her letters to her son reflect a clear understaning of the implications of being a Christian and how we best relect the imago dei in our lives. I recommend this book be added to you libary and gifted to others.

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