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Pretty Baby: Two Letters To My Child(ren)

***written at 11:00 pm after the Grand Jury's decision to not indite Darren Wilson for Mike Brown's Death***

ETA (11/26): My husband wanted to add his letters too. So here is the updated version
Dear Son (from Mommy):

You are not born yet. You haven't even been conceived. But do know I've wanted you since before I knew you existed or will exist. You are already awesome and wonderful and beautiful. You have been willed by the Holy Spirit to come to be. Everyone is praying for you, our baby boy.

You will be nice and kind. You will be articulate and smart. You will have a a style all your own. You will have my eyes and your Dad's towering height. You will have manners and be a fine, young gentleman. You will make good grades and say your prayers before bed. You will open doors for ladies and carry bags....You will spend time in the kitchen with us because food is our love language and you need to learn to feed yourself. It is a life skill. You'll love sports just as much as you love reading. You'll make friends easily without being a pushover. You will do things that are "different" and "atypical" of a young black man. Your father wants you to go to Morehouse but I'd be glad with any college. You'll be an Alpha man just like Daddy. You'll be handy like Grandpa. You'll be a snazzy dresser like your Uncle. 

You will be light and love. 

These are my hopes at least.

But I do want to let you know that others will not feel that way. Some will look at you as some threat....as some other-worldly, ungodly "thing" to be dealt with. They will hate you for no other reason other than you being black and male. You won't get to make "typical teenage mistakes". They will clutch purses in your presence. They will avoid you in elevators. Eye contact is missed. They will follow you in stores. They will accost you on the street for no reason. They will pull you over at nice because your car is nice. They will say things like... "Why do black guys do.....????" and want to have you as their "token" friend.  They will want all your "coolness" without realizing that our "coolness" is a coping mechanism. They will question your existence and why you are even in their "spaces" where you clearly aren't invited yet have every right of being there. Son. they are going to paint you as a monster. They will kill you because you are black. They will fear you because they do not understand. They will think that you are "magical" and fear no pain.  Yet, they will want to examine every  part of you, even those intimate parts because of stereotypes. They will envy it yet fear it. Do not give into such base realities. This will hurt you although you may not confess it. But I know you can and will hurt. They will expect you to be beaten and not fight back.  They will have you ready for the prison as soon as you exit my womb. They will play respectability politics and police your moves.

I  will send you into the world with only the hopes you will return to me the same way. They expect that you will be a sacrifice...and I just am to accept it.

I can tell you to be a good boy. Sit up straight. Speak when spoken to.Listen before you respond.  Do no harm. Do not cause a ruckus or agitate. But I just do not think that would do any good. You can be the most perfect boy and all they will see is imperfection.

Just know Mommy and Daddy love you, Son. 


My son, from Daddy:
Son, you haven’t been conceived yet, but I love you and am already proud of you. You are the descendant of beauty queens, seamstresses, amazing cooks, scholars, doctors, law enforcers, military vets, prayer warriors, servants, and fighters. You, my son, have also come from greatness, and will be greatness.
Son, you are born into a world, where you will already have a strike against you. Many people may not understand that, but, it is your reality. You will work twice as hard as some of your counterparts, yet not progress, or earn as much. You will be asked to be the linebacker, but never the quarterback. While I don’t mind if you sought the Heisman trophy, don’t be used like livestock. Others will make money, while your body is sacrificed. Use whatever opportunities are given to you to your fullest advantage. Do not be discouraged. Keep your head up, and your eyes opened, and don’t take a 6 for a 9. I wish I could paint you a rosy picture, but I’ll be doing you a disservice. The best that I can do for you is to tell you how to live.
First: Be respectful of others. Learn people’s names. Keep your word. You are no better than anyone, but you are MY son, and loved by God; therefore, you are, in my eyes, a King to be.
Honor the women in your life. Treat them as you see me treat your mother, and your grandmothers. Understand them, and know that they are your equal. Listen to them, even when they’re not speaking. Listen with your ears and your heart. Never stop courting… that’s how you got here. Give from your heart.
Son, be humble, and of service to others. Help others along the way, as others have directly and indirectly helped you. Say Please, Thank You, and I’m sorry. Always tip well, and never look down on anybody. Never accept late invitations, never be anybody’s fool, and never borrow. Work and Study Hard. There is nothing in this world that you aren’t entitled to, but understand “No”, when it is said.
You will be brave, and stand tall amongst kings, yet not lose the common touch. You will stumble and fall; be strong enough to get back up and start over. You will be struck down, excluded, discriminated against, and discouraged. Keep that bloody head unbowed. Wake up every day, ready to go through it all over again. Do the right thing. Always. Stand up for what is right, and never turn a blind eye. Sometimes, you’ll be unpopular, sometimes, alone. Character, though, is what you do when nobody is watching. 
And even after you do all these things, you will still be described as, thought of, and judged, prefaced with the color of your skin. You will be told to tone down when you speak; to not be intimidating; to be passive. You will be told to learn your place. It’s a harsh reality. Stay encouraged, stay in the faith, and stay true to yourself, without compromise. 
Son, I wish the world to you. I wish you happiness, success and love. But, most of all, I wish for you to live.
*************







Dear Daughter (from Mommy):

Unborn, not yet conceived, yet gorgeous beyond words. Smart and talented. We've wished 1000 wishes for you. You have your Granny's wild and woolly hair, my eyes and your Dad's complexion. You are the perfect mix of everything and everyone we love. You are beautiful but do know that you are more than your outward appearance.  God granted all our wishes when you were blessed to be our child. You will always be our baby.

You will be mannerable and respectful. You will have a servant's heart. You will be smart and sassy. You will speak your mind and never back down. You will not have limits on you  just because you are a girl. You'll make up stories and have tea parties.You will inherit your father's love of all things techy and my love of all things girly. You will cook, not because you are a woman, but because it is an essential life skill. You'll love to be a woman and cherish it. You'll go off to college. You'll major in what makes you happy not necessarily what makes you money. You'll be a Zeta I hope. You'll love reading as much as you love your Cell Phone (or whatever new contraption comes out). You will be your own person. You will be confident, self-assured, and self-possessed. Even after the awkwardness of teenage years. You will not try to conform to what others thing is beautiful. You will love your skin. Your hair. Your body. You'll want to be the coach, QB and the cheerleader.....

I can only hope for these things...

But I want you to know, dear heart, that there will be people who will try and tear you down. They will brand you "angry" if you speak your mind. They will say you are "bitter" if you are just sad a day or two. You have a right to be sad! They will dissect your body into parts. They will not see you as the standard of beauty but some sort of deviation.  You will have to fear being attacked and assaulted simply by virtue of your existence. You. You will be a "double" minority in so many ways. If you are attacked, they will victim blame/shame you. They will pay you less for all the hard work you do. They won't believe your words. They will fear you simply because you are different.  If you get pulled over by a cop, esp a man, you must be in fear.  They will eroticize and exoticise you. You are fetish to them, wholly and truly.They will say your curves and size are "outside of the norm" and to be reviled. Other women will want to BE you without being you: the body, the lips, the tanned skin. You will feel their privilege in subtle ways. They will say you are wrong even if evidence proves you are right.  You can be jailed for defending yourself and kids. You can be harmed for just protecting them or wanting better for them. They will tell you to swallow pain without complaint.  They will not hold you in the same light of virtue that others are given.  Virtue is given to those deemed worthy, whose sexuality has a price. Yours since the days of slave cabins has not...

I can tell you to be a good girl. To speak when spoken to. To sit properly in skirts. To make your Grandmas' dumplings and collard greens. To not wear too much makeup. To not wear short skirts. To not be TOO loud or too brash.  But I can only pray.... so you have my prayers.

You are love and light most wonderful. But everyone will not see you this way. But Daddy and I see you, honey....we see you.

Dear Daughter, from Daddy:
You are not here yet; not even conceived, but I love you beyond measure. You are the descendant of beauty queens, seamstresses, amazing cooks, scholars, doctors, law enforcers, military vets, prayer warriors, servants, and fighters. You, my love, have come from greatness, and are destined to burn a trail in this world. You will have a heart of gold and ambition beyond measure. Let nobody or thing stand in your way. 
Daughter, you will work twice as hard as your brother, and may not earn the same. In fact, many will tell you that you can’t do it, simply because you’re you. Baby girl, you can show them, better than you can tell them. Be brave; be feisty; be unapologetically you. Be of service, yet not subservient. Be thankful, yet not settling. Be humble, yet know that the riches of the world are yours. 
Sweetheart, do not accept anything but the best from yourself and from others. Treat people with respect and dignity. You may not always receive the same, but you can’t control that. Always do your best, and then some, and have the courage to start over if you fail. Never give up, and never stop dreaming. You can kick down doors, but, if you find a guy like Daddy, he’ll open it for you, like your dad still does for your Mom. Nevertheless, work hard for what you want, even if you go at it alone. 
You will always have my heart; I will always be with you. When things go your way, and when they don’t, I’ll be here to listen. You’ll always have the love and guidance of your heavenly father. Trust in Him always.
Respect others. Love God. Keep Pushing. Live.






To our unborn child (ren). You are a pretty baby. You're pretty,baby.  You will forever be our baby even if the world won't see you that way. Before you are born, I've already sacrificed you. May you return to me whole.........

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