A Message to my unborn son...
Words of freedom are embedded into our American culture. We shout it from the mountain tops and proudly open with it at our good ole’ American baseball games, words such as… “Land of the Free.” The pledge of allegiance is echoed throughout the halls of schools across America which promises “liberty and justice for all.” But you will find that these words have different weight and meaning for diverse groups of people.
Please understand, that Blacks have had a tumultuous relationship with America that dates back to slavery. The Civil Rights Movement is still alive today, but has branched off into a new entity led by a new generation. It has evolved to become more appropriate to the times of social media and hashtags. As your Granny would say, “Same song, different tune.”
As I continue to watch videos and read about the deaths of unarmed Black men, my frustration matures and my fear for you is heightened. The images of their death replaying on a nightmarish loop but instead, my mind conjures a representation of your face. The reports remain constant and the accounts… chilling. When you are raised in a high crime, impoverished neighborhood, you usually become desensitized to violence. But with your birth looming, that notion becomes impossible for a mother to fathom. Numbing myself to the idea that I too could become an unwilling member of the “Mothers of the Movement.”
You are entitled to the unalienable rights of life and liberty as declared in our declaration of independence. Yes, LIFE and the right to grow… old. To earn the honor of wearing a badge of gray with wisdom pursuing each follicle. Yet and still, I am haunted by the concept that not clicking your seat belt could prevent you from this feat. That your achilles heel could be a broken tail light or that the odds that I might outlive my only son increases with each street stained with the blood of another young Black male.
Defeating ignorance can be a powerful weapon against injustice. Education, social justice, human rights, it is all irrevocably linked. I believe that education equals freedom. So yes, of course the expectation is for you to receive a quality education and become a university graduate so that you may achieve your dreams. But before you enter this world, I need you to know that regardless, you are already intelligent and that you have power. The power to be peaceful, forgiving, successful, law abiding and even president of the United States. The power to be you. It is a power that will be tested, feared and challenged repeatedly, but you will persevere because you will have my strength and the strengths of the matriarchs who raised me. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “we may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
I leave you with these words…NOT ALL. Not all whites are racist, not all cops are bad, not everyone is malevolent. In the words of our first Black President, Barack Obama:
We can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their sons leave the house isn’t so different from what a brave cop’s family feel when he puts on the blue and go to work. We can honor police AND treat every community fairly.
There is always hope. A hope that one day our country will live up to its name; that we will truly live in the “free” world. While I want you to understand the nature of hate and truly comprehend the dangers that you will face as a Black male in America, I want you to also embrace and practice something far superior that lies within you…
THE POWER OF LOVE.