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.
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!!!