Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, By Jasmine L. Holmes
Mother to Son
  • Length: 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 5 × 7 in
  • Published: March 24, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3276
  • ISBN: 9780830832767

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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.

"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

"The love of black mothers for their sons defies easy categorization. It's at once fierce and tender. It's folksy and sophisticated. It careens toward indulgence but insists on growing up. Black mothers somehow combine both the romance all mothers feel for their sons with the realism required in a racially cruel world. The love of black mothers for their sons is a gift to the world—and the church. In these pages you will see why, as Jasmine Holmes speaks to her sons and to the church about her sons, about black boys, about black mothers, about hope and pain, love and fear, justice and gospel. Anyone looking for an honest yet hopeful exploration of what it means to be black, a mom, a wife, and a Christian—in all the ways those labels interact—will find a witty, womanly, biblical, theologically sound guide in Jasmine as she talks with her boys, and ours."

Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church, Washington, DC

"As I read Mother to Son, I couldn't help but think of the many African American mothers who will read and be able to take a deep, long breath and say, 'I am not alone.' This book is rich in theological and foundational truth about God and about who we all are because of God. Yes, it's for a mother and son, but anyone who reads will benefit. A treasure of a book."

Trillia Newbell, author of Sacred Endurance and God's Very Good Idea

"This sincere, personal account will appeal to parents and church leaders interested in the intersection of social justice and religion. Recommended for all libraries."

Starred Review, Library Journal, Ray Arnett, March 2020

Read an Excerpt


1. You Are Mine
2. You are God's
3. You Are Beautiful
Interlude: I Didn't Know I Was Beautiful
4. You Are American
Interlude: Ode to Langston
5. You Are the Church
6. You Are More Than Your Ethnicity
Interlude: It's Okay to Be Offended
7. You Are a Brother
8. Be a Good Brother to the Sisters
9. Be an Advocate
Interlude: The Time I Almost Unfollowed Someone on Twitter
10. Be a Bridge
Interlude: How to Study and How to Talk
11. You Are a Different Story
Interlude: In Search of Mentorship
12. You Are a New Tribe


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Jasmine L. Holmes

Jasmine L. Holmes has written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, Fathom Mag, Christianity Today, and The Witness. She is also a contributing author for Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of Our Identity in Christ and His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God. She teaches humanities in a classical Christian school in Jackson, Mississippi, where she and her husband, Phillip, are parenting two young sons.

These letters aren't the how-to of an experienced parent but the hopes of a first-time mom.
As much as I think of you, there is someone who thinks of you even more than I do... it's Jesus.
You are black. And it is good.
You are precious because God breathed life into you. He created you in his image. And You're beautiful.