I know you are only a year and a half old, but it’s time you learn to control your free spirit and quiet your inquisitive voice. Although beautiful traits and a fantastic sense of wonder that most would encourage you to have, these are things that will kill you. You are just a baby today, but you will grow up to be a black man, and in this world, that’s apparently enough reason to be gunned down in the street.
Your light skin may be more than “good” genes (please read that sarcastically, angrily). Your light skin may be a blessing that allows you to survive in a world where the black man is feared more and mourned less than the actual monkey people refer to him as. Your light skin may save you, but you, my baby, will still be a black man. So learn your place now before it is too late.
As your mother, I have big goals and dreams and hopes for you. You deserve the world and more, but unfortunately that same world you deserve will be the one flashing the scariest, ugliest photo of you that they can find across our internet and television screens when the very people who are supposed to protect you are the ones who murder you.
You will grow up to be a beautiful, smart, kind black man to me and to those who know you, but to those who don’t, you will be nothing but a big, scary, strong black criminal regardless of your rap sheet or age. In the eyes of others, you will be a scary black man before even reaching puberty. You will be a black man before you’re too old for playgrounds. Age does not define your adulthood, unfortunately the color of your skin does. You will be a black man long before you’re a man, and I pray that you will survive long enough to outlive me.
I need you to outlive me.
Because unlike the ‘angry black woman’ I have not had to endure this pain day after day, night after night. This is not something I’ve known as my truth for my entire life. I am not as strong as the black woman who has to remain composed long enough to film the atrocities that occur in her backyard every day. I am privileged, so I am not strong enough to watch my baby be murdered, turned into the villain and come out of it unscathed. I won’t survive, so I need you to.
You will grow up to be a black man, baby. And I’m scared.