A Letter to My Son
Today you’re 5 years old. When you’re old enough to understand I’ll let you read this. But I needed to put this down somewhere.
As with every birthday that you and your sister have, I’ve been a bit teary-eyed and emotional. But with all that’s happened in our country over the past several years, I worry about you – a lot; I’m sad. You’re growing up in a world that makes me wonder if people really value your life. Not just as a human-being but as a black male.
I’m sure some will read this and say that I’m being dramatic, unrealistic, a pot-stirrer, liberal snowflake, or whatever other name they can think of to diminish the concern I have. But those people aren’t raising you. Those people didn’t celebrate your father’s 25th birthday, not from the standpoint of ‘Yay, he’s 25’ but from the standpoint of, ‘Yay, he’s not a statistic’. Those people don’t worry about the school-to-prison pipeline, income inequality, racial profiling, or the separate set of rules you have to live by. Those people don’t worry about if you’ll leave the house one day to walk down to the store and be questioned about if you’re in the right neighborhood…or worse. Those people don’t worry if people will question who you are because you’re articulate, love video games, and don’t play football.
The thing is son, some people aren’t going to know what your father and I know. They aren’t going to know how ridiculously intelligent you are – even at ‘just’ 5. They aren’t going to know that at four, you picked up a book and just started reading. They aren’t going to know that you have a keen wit and an insane amount of charm – that you’ve had since you could talk. They aren’t going to know that we refuse to let you play football because of the damage it does to your body. Or that we’re okay with you reading poetry or letting you brush your sister’s doll’s hair because you just want to play with her. Or that in the next minute you might be trying to hit her with your play sword. Some people are just going to see that you’re black and decide what you are and aren’t capable of and how you should or shouldn’t live your life.
But I’ll do what I can so your spirit won’t be broken. So that you won’t ever feel less than or that you’re not enough. So that 20 years from now you aren’t fighting for the same respect so many others are fighting for today.
I’ll continue to love you fiercely and advocate for you on every front. I’ll continue to make sure that you know who God is and pray that you commit your life to Him so He’ll know you. I’ll continue to be your Mama Bear.
Happy birthday, son. Mama loves you.