A Letter to My Son

It’s 3am.
I just crawled in bed next to you because on some nights I just want to be close and hear you breathe while you sleep. Tonight is one of those nights. You’ll understand when you become a parent. Right now you don’t understand some things because your life revolves around toys and spongebob but one day you will read this and know exactly where I’m coming from. I write you a letter every year on your birthday but your dad is heavy with burden and I need to get this off my chest.

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In the beginning …
Truth is from the day we brought you home from the hospital your mother and I have tried to mold you into being a good person. A loving person that respects everyone. When you look at me I know you see someone who is strong and has all the answers to life.

But Dad doesn’t have all the answers son.
As a matter of fact I’m still trying to figure things out myself.

I would love to ask my dad some questions sometime but I can’t. You are so much like me that I’m as fearful as I am proud. You possess some of my strengths as well as my weaknesses and both qualities are still undeveloped. You wear your emotions on your sleeve and while I’m here it is my job to teach you how to channel those because that is what I had to learn. But this isn’t a letter to give you the keys to being a good citizen.

This is a letter about survival
This is a letter to tell you I’m scared.
I won’t always be there to protect you.

I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t keep it all the way real with you. Truth is two black men died this week that didn’t have to and some people were more upset over a politicians emails and a monkey being shot than that of a black life. So yea, your life matters to your family and screw everything else.

As a black man you will accumulate a lot of emotions in your emotional backpack. Chief among these emotions might be anger but my son you must master it before it masters you. Channel your emotions for good and pour positive energy into other people as much as you can and the universe will reward you.

Your life matters to me but in this country your life has no value. This isn’t meant to scare you but rather equip you for the jungle this nation has become. Those sworn to protect you can end your life even if you do everything right so I can’t lecture you about how to act around them.

For decades people that look like us have been murdered under questionable circumstances and have never even had a day in court. Because in America that is business as usual. Your white friends will say it’s not a race thing even though the majority of bodies that are buried keep looking like you and I. Be smart son, don’t engage in all debates.
Folks that are blind are that way because they choose to be blind and there is no incentive for them to see. Don’t waste your energy trying to get them to care or understand your plight. Remain respectful and loving to all people but understand your white friends Dads aren’t up at 4am writing their sons letters worried that a cop will kill them.

Life isn’t fair but here are a few tips:
Vote.. Talk to God daily.. Respect the law.. Don’t do drugs.. Respect women.. Don’t play your music loud.. Don’t wear hoodies at night.. Pull your pants up…Don’t sell cigarettes.. Don’t drink and drive.. Don’t sell CDs ..Don’t carry a gun (even if it’s legal or a toy).. Be careful shopping at Wal-Mart.. Watch the company you keep.. Don’t be out past 12.. Don’t be out at night time .. Don’t be out at sunset .. Don’t be out in the afternoon or morning if you can help that too.

But most of all my son…. Be careful how you wear your blackness.

There is more: Don’t run in crowds.. Tip toe around old white ladies.. If you are walking behind people in the mall always make a little noise with your keys or fake cough so you won’t scare them. Be proud to be black just don’t do it around white people… Again, the music keep it low in some areas.. Don’t drive too fast or too slow.. If you get pulled over, wait.. WHEN you get pulled over take a breath and everything needs to be “yes sir, no sir.”

Some of this is sarcasm but to make things easy just take it all as me being literal. I wish I had a manual but truth is you can obey a cop and they could still shoot you dead. Not all cops are bad but this is a reality you need to know. We all have burdens to carry and this is yours but its not yours alone.

I’ve just given you a bunch of puzzle pieces for survival and you are going to work your whole life on putting it together. You will need to learn how to function in your world of color as well as the colorless world that white people believe exist. I didn’t fully grasp this concept and wasn’t comfortable with my blackness until I went to Oakwood so be patient, it will come. You are black and that’s ok because you are beautiful.

Your history isn’t colorless it is full of black Kings and strong people that survived slavery and other things. Be proud. Celebrate the differences in culture with your White, Hispanic and Asian friends. This will make you well rounded.

There’s gonna come a day that you will be released into the jungle, trust your instincts, ask God for protection and guidance but survive my son.
By any means necessary do what you have to do to you survive!!!

Love,

Dad

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10 thoughts on “A Letter to My Son

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this letter. It has my choked up because I didn’t know how to tell my son when he gets older and he is only 15 months. But I will share this letter with him when he gets older. Again, thank you.

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  2. Woe😢…sigh…I don’t know how you feel, I’m not a parent, I know I feel hopeless and helpless but your words somehow brought me a little comfort. I know your son will also find a little comfort and guidance in this. This letter shows the strength it took to get our people thru horrible times. Our people could not always be angry; they had to stay calm and “organize”, think and take deliberate action. You could have written with anger and fall apart (which I you probably felt at times); instead you choose to be level headed and just..real. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you .. I was actually hesitant to share but I’m glad I did. The original piece was really raw and I had to soften it in several edits. I’m really proud of this because I tried to be honest without worrying about anyone’s feelings and tell my truth to my son. Thank you for viewing my art. God bless you

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  3. Powerful words my brother. The wisdom of your father is flowing within you! You have found a way to express what every black father want to say to their son but didn’t have the words.

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  4. Wow Eddie! This is your second Mom and as you know I don’t do face book, but when there is something worth seeing your Mom always tells me to get on and read. Indeed this was worth me getting on facebook.

    Your letter moved me in ways I did not anticipate. When I read the admission that you were scared, tears unexpectedly gushed from my soul and filled my eyes. Memories of raising my son and having the same fear flooded my memories. I recalled how I desperately began to “preach” to Gene 23 + years ago about “driving while Black”. I remembered the anger I felt with having to do that as a part of his teenage guidance.

    Of course Gene did not quite understand the desperate efforts to ensure his survival until the two of you were stopped coming from a church basketball game and questioned about “whose car (your family’s Lexus), were you driving”?

    For you guys that was probably just another day in the life of a teen but to parents, it is a relentless fear to realize that their son or grandson may die at the hand of someone who is supposed to protect your rights but seem more intimidated by your strength or history of negative perceptions perpetuated by those who have devalued them since slavery. I share your heart and encourage your continued dedication to ensure your son’ s survival even though you will not always be there to protect him.

    No one can understand the depth of that responsibility unless they have lived it and as a people we have lived it for generations.
    Much love from your second Mom.

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  5. Eddie,

    I am so very proud of you. The many prayers your mom and I prayed for you from the time you were attending Tampa Jr. Academy through Oakwood have truly been honored.

    Reading this letter to your son brought back memories of my childhood when white cops falsely arrested by dad, a stutterer who couldn’t articulate well when accosted. Fortunately, they didn’t kill him but, because we were too poor to afford an attorney, he was sent to a federal prison for allegedly raping a white woman although he had proof that he was at work, cooking at Morrison’s Cafeteria. I grew up from grades four through my senior year in college without his physical presence in my life. But I always remembered how kind and good he was. Praise God, when released, He came to church with my mom and me and became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian before succumbing to lung cancer at age 54.

    The realities of trying to stay alive as a black man in America can be frightening, to say the least. However, our God promises that He will allow no more than we can bear. He didn’t tell us to understand all that happens, just to trust Him! Emphasize to your son his great need to have an abiding relationship with Jesus. Let him see you reading the Bible and talking to Jesus daily. Let him see you be the true priest in your home; have him memorize and understand Psalm 91; teach Him that Jesus cares and protects His children and although the road is often tough all will be well! Praise God for all of His promises are true!!

    Thanks for sharing your heart with your adopted family and friends!!

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