Tuesday, November 25, 2014

An Open Letter to My Black(African-American) Sons!

The decision in Ferguson saddened me. As a mom of two sons, it scares me. As an educator, it makes me realize that we have to empathize with the students sitting in our classrooms.

Hey Man,
I address you as "man". I will never call you "buddy". I know you have heard parents say, "Hey buddy." But I cannot do that to you. Throughout your life there will be too many people who will try to make you feel like you are less than a man. Too many who will treat you as though you are less than a man. I want you to know that you are a man.

As you go through school, you will have to prove yourself. You will always have to prove yourself, and I will fight for you. Your skin makes people automatically question your intelligence, your ability to problem-solve, write essays, to think. You may hear some say that you are "articulate", because that is not something they believe you should be, or could be. But don't worry, hold your head high, and keep moving forward.

Enjoy your friendships with white people. In this day and age, kids don't worry too much about race. It's usually something saved for when people start to age. But be cautious, for you can not do as they do. The consequences for you will be more severe. They may get a warning, you will be suspended, kicked out of school, put in jail, depending on the severity of your actions. It's important that you make good choices.

As you grow, you will come to realize that other's perception of you is not really who you are. People may think you want to be high-fived all the time. They may think you want to grow up and be a basketball player.They may think that you don't know who your daddy is. But that's just the beginning.

People will cross the street as you approach. Store owners will watch you when you enter their store. Hands will clutch pocketbooks to their sides, People will silently debate whether or not they should join you on an elevator. If you run, you are running from a criminal act you have committed, not to catch a bus.

You have to understand that "your" face is splashed across a screen every. single. day. A scary face with the crime of the day posted underneath. You protest, "That's not me!" I know it's not you, but that's not the world's view.

When an individual black male commits a crime, his crime is passed on to all black males. He becomes "every black man.". His crimes, your crimes. His crimes giving police a reason to stop and frisk, to humiliate, to charge you with crimes you did not commit, or worse, gun you down in the street with your hands up.

And I know it's unfair that a white man can kill children, and the media spends more time trying to figure out why he did it and the issues that led him to do it, than convicting him of his crime. And no son, all white people are not serial killers or mass murderers. Just individual white people. That's the way of this world.

If you are fortunate enough to be successful, be prepared for the stereotypes people may have.They may assume that you are a drug dealer, an athlete, or a rapper. Architect, computer programmer, an engineer, a real estate mogul, inventor, these options do not come to mind as easily.
You have to understand, just as I say no one understands what it means to be a teacher, unless they are one, it's the same for you being a black male.

The difference is people can become teachers, and understand how it feels. No one can become a black male.

What we need people to do is understand what it is like to be a black male. We need them to understand what life is like for you. Maybe we will get there.
Hold your head high and keep moving forward. I love you!
Your proud Mom

photo credit: Youth Radio via photopin cc

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