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An Open Letter to My One-Year Old Son and All Black Baby Boys

May 9, 2012

We all love our beautiful boys and as mothers and fathers we try to have faith that if we rear them in the right way they will reach their full potential and give great gifts to the world.  But every now and then a story shakes our optimism that we have control with respect to how our children will grow. For me, one such story was the story of the Dunbar Village rape.  For those of you who don’t know, a group of boys raped and tortured a mother and her son in Florida.  I was horrified when I read about one mother who was so convinced that her son did not take part in the incident that she encourged him to give a DNA sample.  The sample was a positive match with the DNA in the semen found at the crime scene. This mother was so disgusted when she found out about the match that she told her son that she hopes that the faces and screams of the victims haunt him every night.  Scary!  I don’t think that those boys who committed the horror are psychopaths.  I think that they have fallen victim to negative peer pressure and atrocious ideas about what makes a “strong man” and particularly a “strong black man”.  I pray that my son never falls victim  to such nonsense and this is my heartfelt letter expressing that.

This open letter was featured on Fresh Xpress on September 25, 2011.

An Open Letter to My One-Year Old Son and All Black Baby Boys

Dear Son,

Do you know that you are handsome, brilliant and powerful beyond measure?  My dream for you is that you will grow to possess incontrovertible knowledge of your beauty, intelligence and infinite potential.  I pray that you will come to see your dark skin and your coily crown as the physical manifestations of your ties to the proud and resilient African Diaspora.  Most of all, I hope that you will love yourself and in loving yourself you will love and be good to all others, including black women and girls.

My love, I am writing to you because I’ve felt sickened by the actions of hatred perpetrated by some black men and boys against black women and girls.  The obvious crimes against humanity in Dunbar and Cleveland left me asking whether the male perpetrators were monsters or men.  But this brewing hatred or lack of love for black women also manifests in more subtle and seemingly innocuous ways.

Certain successful hip hop artists are producing the soundtrack for misogyny as they reduce black women to mere sexual objects despite the fact that they are intimately aware of black women as mothers, sisters, teachers, care-takers, professionals and friends as well as lovers.  Some of black America’s most prominent men in media consistently glorify non-black women and women who look non-black, excluding women with the hues and hair textures of their own mothers from the images they’ve employed to represent beauty.  Meanwhile, it has become almost commonplace for some black men to regard black women as unworthy of what sister Carmen calls “the most basic contemporary sexual decency of wearing a condom” and certainly undeserving of commitment, before God and men, to love and cherish a woman until death.

I am under no illusions.  I sincerely believe the Dunbar black boys who brutally gang-raped a 35 year-old black mother, forced her to have sex with her own son, and poured alcohol, nail polish remover, and ammonia on the her to destroy evidence were once lovely giggling babies like you.  The eighteen black teen boys and men who violently gang raped an 11 year-old brown girl in Cleveland once lovingly nestled in their mothers’ bosoms for both nutrients and nurturing.

The hip hop artists who religiously rap about black women as bitches and hoes deserving nothing but sexual domination were once toddlers and their first words for black women were mama and nana.  The now wealthy media moguls who believe that only mixed-race black women or non-black women deserve to be images of desirability once looked up adoringly at their dark mothers’ faces.  Finally, the black men who have five children by five baby mamas but have never once desired to make any of those black women their lawfully wedded wives were once loyal like you.  They cried every weekday morning pleading for their black mothers not to go to work because no nanny or baby sitter’s care could replace their mother’s love.

My darling baby boy, I don’t know what happens in between infancy and adolescence that has caused certain black men who were once loving black baby boys like you to turn against women who look like their own mothers.  I don’t know what childhood occurrence distinguishes those black men from the many black men like your father and uncles who choose to honor and respect all black women and to love, cherish, marry and procreate with only one. Could it be that certain black men are so myopic in vision that their love and loyalty can only extend to women who literally share 50% of the same genes as them?  Could it be that those black men are so short-sighted that they do not see how their own actions feed a culture of hatred, lack of respect and lack of love towards their own mothers, sisters, and daughters.  Could it be that those black men lack such love and respect generally that they have none to give?

I will always love you, respect you, protect you, fight for you and be the biggest fan of your existence.  In my eyes, you are and will always be a magical miracle from the Almighty.  I pray that in truly knowing that you are a miracle you will not feel in any shape or form tempted to prove your self-worth or manhood by harming others, especially women and girls.  I pray that in knowing your own beauty that you will never exclude women who look like you from your images of desirability.  Finally, I pray that in recognizing that you are worthy of being cherished and loved for as long as you live that you will commit to cherishing and loving someone, particularly the woman who bears your child.



One Comment
  1. Although I’ve just seen this letter so many months later after its conception, somehow little black boys need to hear this. Especially those who were raised by mother’s only. A second thought might be that black men need to be saying something similar! Maybe with our own male swag, but said nonetheless. The power of affirmation. We’ll see..

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