When I was about 5 months pregnant my doctor noticed that my baby’s heartbeat was irregular and made me visit a fetal heart specialist to see what was going on. My own heart sat in my throat as I drove from one office to another to find out why my baby’s heart was literally beating to its own drum. As the technician put the ultrasound wand on my stomach I looked at the screen. There it was as clear as day, I was having a boy. My first thought was, “Yes! I don’t have to learn how to braid hair!”. Luckily my son’s heartbeat got its act together and the specialist decided that no further tests were required. On my way home I started thinking about life with a son. We were going to have fun.
8 year later, we are still having fun. I’ve learned so much about Star Wars, football, Pokemon, and Legos. I love the way my son’s eyes light up when he’s learned something new and is bursting to tell me. We have fun. With all of the joy that comes with raising a son, there’s some (or a lot) anxiety that comes with raising a Black son in America. In recent years there has been increasing attention to the plight of young Black men. Amadou Diallo. Sean Bell. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Walter Scott. There are many whose names I don’t know, but I send my heart to their families.
I’ve decided that I don’t want to live in or raise my son in a cloud of fear and anxiety. History has told us a lot about the stress of being Black in America. There are countless reports and documentaries that share the heartache that our Black boys experience. In these short 8 years, I’ve already had my share of heartache. I will not hide from the reality, but I will not let the unknown drown me or my child. Inspired by Brandi’s post, here are some things I want my son to know.
- You are a child of God. Enough said.
- Do not shrink yourself to make others feel comfortable. God has given you amazing gifts and talents, do not keep them from the world.
- There’s nothing wrong with the way you talk. Some people have commented that you “sound White”. Your accent is beautiful and I love the sound of your voice.
- Some people may be nervous (or even scared) when you are in their presence. That’s the result of their ignorance and has nothing to do with you.
- No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
- Not all police officers are bad people. Some of them actually care about your well-being and want you to be safe.
- Ask all the questions. Make sure you get all of the information you need to make informed decisions.
- Love your body and protect your health.
- Never let your passport expire, see the world. And make sure you bring something back for me.
- Have multiple streams of income; never rely on one job to take care of yourself or your family.
- Tell the truth, even if your voice shakes.
- Treat the women in your life with love and respect. Remember me.
- You were created in love.
- Don’t rely on the news to create an accurate or whole picture of who you are as a Black male. Create your own media outlet to share stories of men like you.
- Never let anyone call you anything but your name.
- You are handsome, but arrogance will make you ugly.
- You are smart, but arrogance will make you dumb.
- There will probably be many instances where you will be the only Black person/Black man/person of color in a setting. Don’t shrink but be aware.
Mom loves you.