A Conversation With My Future Son - The Verdict Heard Around The World

Jul 14, 2013

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"Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping,...erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men...living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!" - Frederick Douglass
One day, I'll sit down with my son and tell him Trayvon Martin's story.

I'll share this heartbreaking tragedy as a segue into the inevitable conversation that parents of Black boys (and girls) must have in order to protect their children from the sad realities of this society. It's an inescapable burden.

I'll tell him that because his God-breathed spirit is encased in beautiful, brown body, certain people will never view him as fully human.

I'll explain how people will project their irrational fears onto him due to subconscious cultural assumptions about his intentions, his actions, and his motives. I'll explain how small pleasantries like expressing himself freely in dress and manner of speech, or taking a walk at night are not always given to Black men.  And sadly, being a CHILD will not grant him immunity in the eyes of people who have been socialized to interpret certain expressions of Blackness as "ghetto," "thuggish," "hood," and worst of all "threatening."

I'll warn him not to be fooled if and when male/class/education and/or able-bodied privileges grant him fleeting passes of humanity among White people (who otherwise do not value his life). They will allow us to occupy public space, so long as we do it on their terms. To be unaware of his Blackness when navigating this world is to be vulnerable, because there is always threat of someone reminding him in the form of race-based harassment, discrimination, and policing.

I'll teach him the truth about this nation's history. Despite the fact that many claim that race is no longer an issue, I'll share how, not that long ago, his great-grandmother and great-uncles attended a segregated school in the town where I grew up and the affects of racism are still very palpable.

Sadly, I'll explain that even some Black people will view him through the eyes of internalized White supremacy. "All my skinfolk ain't kinfolk," as they say.

But, most importantly, I'll instill the truth in my son about how our identity's are rooted firmly in Christ and that we are made whole in Him, never to feel inferior to anyone under any circumstance. I'll teach him that God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love. Lastly, we have a responsibility to Black woman to stand in solidarity against the issues that they face, as well. And any other oppressed persons, for that matter. We must never, ever get discouraged or become weary in the fight for justice for all people because our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

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