A Letter to My Black Son

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

By: Katwian Zetrenne-Norman

To my son,

I birthed you and didn’t even think a wink of how troublesome that could be for you. I was engulfed in the idea of a beautiful brown boy to hold, love, and raise, but never what the world would do to you. You see, I didn’t take into consideration that you’re cute as a button now. And no matter how handsome, smart, educated, and successful you become; this world will see you mearly as just another black man in a world that’s is not for you. I guess I should elaborate.

Your laugh encapsulates rooms and your smile lingers to everyone who sees. But one day those things that I see, so adorable now, will be considered weaponry. At 8 years old, they won’t see you as a kid anymore. No matter how playful and giggly you may be. That beautiful brown skin of yours, the skin the covers your flesh, for some reason creates serious fear and anxiety. When you speak without using slang and look dapper in a suit, you’ll be “one of the good ones”. But when you’re out in a different neighborhood; they’ll name you a thug. Believe it or not your beautiful brown skin; is beautiful and I want you to embrace it and be proud. But I’m telling you right here and now that juggling the real you and the “black” you in this world can get a little hard.

The older you get the harder it’ll be and there isn’t really much more to it. Your father and I have to teach you how to save your own life and what it looks like to not be free. How you can’t walk down the street with a hoodie or your hands in your pockets. That being in the wrong place at the wrong time can leave you lifeless. That you can’t let your phone die because sometimes thats the thing that gets you justice and keeps you safe. That not all cops are bad, but they have a power that protects them way more than you. And how even just sitting in your skin gives them some weird tingly reason to shoot.

I’m not saying these things to tell you that the world is a terrible place. I’m really saying that I birthed you without actually thinking of all the variables, especially the fact that you will constantly not be safe. As your mom, I am so in love with you! My baby boy, with your little button nose. But the world won’t see what your father and I see. And realistically, I can’t bear to think that your lifeless body could be shared across a tv screen. You can say and do all the right things in this world, the one qualm, unfortunately, is that golden brown skin. You must maneuver through this world in a way that will exhaust you mentally, physically, and emotionally, and it won’t even be to fit in, but to live. As I sit here and think about all the names we have to say aloud, I do not want that for any person no matter white, yellow, or brown. But the reality of it is that I have to raise you to be aware. To understand the world we live in was not built for you. I’m so sorry that I’ve subjected you to such bullshit, you didn’t ask to have to go through.

With Love,