Parenthood Raising Boys

18 Things I Want My Black Son to Know

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.

  1. You are a child of God. Enough said.
  2. Do not shrink yourself to make others feel comfortable. God has given you amazing gifts and talents, do not keep them from the world.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
  6. Not all police officers are bad people. Some of them actually care about your well-being and want you to be safe.
  7. Ask all the questions. Make sure you get all of the information you need to make informed decisions.
  8. Love your body and protect your health.
  9. Never let your passport expire, see the world. And make sure you bring something back for me.
  10. Have multiple streams of income; never rely on one job to take care of yourself or your family.
  11. Tell the truth, even if your voice shakes.
  12. Treat the women in your life with love and respect. Remember me.
  13. You were created in love.
  14. 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.
  15. Never let anyone call you anything but your name.
  16. You are handsome, but arrogance will make you ugly.
  17. You are smart, but arrogance will make you dumb.
  18. 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.

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  • Reply Melanie

    This is awesome! You are such a great mom, I see the evidence in your son even now at only 8 years of age. He will be a world changer 🙂

    April 9, 2015 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Kari

    You are such an amazing mom, Laila.
    I see amazing things for your son and I vow to be there in the village for you and him no matter how far away you move.
    Big hugs.

    April 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm
  • Reply Tamiko

    Great list. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Good starting point.
    Tamiko recently posted…April FestivalsMy Profile

    April 10, 2015 at 8:12 am
  • Reply Mrs. Pancakes

    What an awesome list and yes the first one is so important and the way he views himself outside of the media and society!! He looks like a handsome little guy from the inside out!

    April 10, 2015 at 8:45 am
  • Reply Stacie

    Awesome! I love this list. I know how it is to raise Black sons and I believe in encouraging them and praying for them. I’m going to share a few things on this list!
    Stacie recently posted…New Dial Miracle Oil Hand Soap Giveaway!My Profile

    April 10, 2015 at 9:24 am
  • Reply Michellette "MimiCuteLips" Green

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE! I am the mom of a teen year old black son. These are the things I want for him and more. Its such a challenge to keep them informed yet protect their innoncence.
    Michellette “MimiCuteLips” Green recently posted…Easter #OURPROJECT52My Profile

    April 10, 2015 at 10:01 am
  • Reply Brandi

    Oh, Laila! This is EVERYTHING. #1 – #18. Every single on of them.
    Brandi recently posted…“Ever After High: Spring Unsprung” Inspired BarrettesMy Profile

    April 11, 2015 at 1:32 am
  • Reply Donnalee

    Great list. But it’s such a shame that some of the more racially inspired ones have to be said.
    Donnalee recently posted…15 Hilarious Images From President Obama’s Visit to JamaicaMy Profile

    April 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm
  • Reply Siobhan (BeFree Project)

    I love your list and I will be sharing many of the things you listed with my 6 year old son. My hurt hearts for the way black men are treated in this country and it’s makes me sad the things I will have to share with my son just because he’s black. Great post!

    April 12, 2015 at 9:52 pm
  • Reply Dream2.3

    As a single mom of a black mom I feel a weight on what to do or sat that will help him become well rounded and just great! This has encouraged me to make my own list and then print and no frame it for my little man.

    April 12, 2015 at 10:30 pm
  • Reply Nancy

    Love!!! This is so inspiring, I will go through this list with my little boy and discuss it all, beautiful, and a lucky boy…
    Nancy recently posted…The Awesome Physical Benefits of RunningMy Profile

    April 13, 2015 at 8:48 am
  • Reply Christine @MomsNCharge

    OMG this brought tears to my eyes! Where is the “love it” button when you need one? I’m a mother of a 7 year-old son so this definitely touched my heart. And I am the same way: while we talk to our son about reality and what’s going on, we spend way more time talking to him about his gifts, abilities and who he truly is at his core. Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful post.
    Christine @MomsNCharge recently posted…Motivational Monday: Try AgainMy Profile

    April 13, 2015 at 10:08 am
  • Reply Kara

    This was so touching! I’m raising 2 boys myself so I’m very familiar with the fear of what they can experience as they grow up. Loved this!
    Kara recently posted…Deep Conditioning Relaxed Hair | 5 Months Post TexlaxingMy Profile

    April 27, 2015 at 2:13 am
  • Reply Mrs. AOK

    I love this list, Laila! You’re doing such a wonderful and loving job as a mother. We see your love, we feel your love, and your son feels it even harder. I know with your guidance he will do big things.
    It is a scary time, but I am hopeful for our future.
    All the best~
    Mrs. AOK recently posted…That’s What She Said: What Do You See?My Profile

    April 30, 2015 at 5:59 pm
  • Reply Drea

    I love this list, Laila. I even got a little emotional while reading it. As a mother of two sons, I need to get on my job and make sure they know all of these things as well. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me!
    Drea recently posted…Current Beauty FavoritesMy Profile

    April 30, 2015 at 6:02 pm
  • Reply Mark

    I’m not Black, but I’m a father, and this was meaningful to me both as a parent and a person. Thank you for sharing.

    May 8, 2015 at 11:57 am
  • Reply Kia

    I immediately think of you and your son whenever national news notices another attempted degradation to our personhood. I selfishly wish you were closer to hug you and your mama bear might. This list is a beautiful display of that might.

    July 8, 2016 at 11:53 am
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