To the Mamas of Black Boys,
I don’t know how you do it. How you look fear in the face every morning and go on in spite of it.
I get it a little bit – every mama of boys does. We all have fears about parenting these future men. Are we raising them to respect women? Are we raising them to respect themselves? Are we raising them to participate in a society that may not fully understand their unique characteristics?
But I know that while we have many fears and worries in common, there are challenges that you face as the mothers of black boys that I can never understand.
I worry about things like grades and finished classwork. But I don’t worry that my sons will receive a sub-standard education simply because the color of their skin means that they are suspended more often. I don’t worry that they will have to fight to learn because the system works against them rather than with them.
I worry that my sons won’t always behave in ways that reflects the person that they truly are. But I don’t worry that their wrong-doings will label them a thug. That an expletive will immediately brand them as aggressors. That an outburst will automatically make them a threat.
I worry about them getting behind the wheel of a car in a few short years. But I don’t worry that the color of their skin will make them the victims of more frequent traffic stops and searches, and I’m not concerned with talking to them about the proper way to handle an interaction with a police officer if they are pulled over.
I worry about the pejoratives that my sons may encounter, words that will cut at them and make them doubt their worth. But I don’t worry that the color of their skin will cause some to look at them with suspicion, and will cause call them that which can only be named by a single consonant. I don’t worry that their very humanity will be brought into question because of their features.
I don’t worry that the color of their skin means that their words will be unheard, that their struggles will be dismissed, or that their lives will be in danger. I don’t worry that pleas for their lives will go unheeded by those who should protect those lives.
We all want good things for our sons. Happiness, love, contentment, a future filled with good things. But I know that many of you simply want your sons to have a future.
May this advent come soon for you.