Dear Future Son,
Honestly son I don’t know what to tell you right now. I don’t know if I should tell you to be angry or if I should hug you and hold you tightly and tell you that everything will be okay. Well now that I think about it I can’t tell you that because I honestly don’t know if everything will be okay. Tonight as I saw the man that murdered Trayvon Martin go free it was proven to me once again that being a black man in America requires you to follow a different set of rules, but don’t worry because I got you. Here are the rules Son:
1) Don’t ever wear a hoodie at night in any neighborhood besides “the hood” or the projects because it’s only there that you won’t look suspicious.
2) Don’t buy Arizona Iced Tea or skittles because they automatically make you look like you are up to no good.
3) Don’t ever make any mistakes in high-school (because of course no 16 year old boys are entitled to make a few mistakes) because you will automatically be labeled a thug.
4) Don’t walk around at 7:00pm talking on your cell phone at night unarmed because Son I tell you that the neighborhood watch will be coming for you.
5) Oh and last and not least just don’t be black in America.
Okay Son if you stick to that script then maybe, just maybe you won’t be gunned down for any apparent reason. Follow these rules and maybe, just maybe you might be able to make it into adulthood, but son there is more to story….listen up to what happens as you get older.
Son you might make it into adulthood where you might one day be looking for a job, but don’t worry because I will make sure to name you something neutral because if your name sounds to “urban” then your resume may go straight into the trash. Oh and by the way I can’t allow you to have dreads because that’s too “black” and you must shave all of your facial hair because you won’t look as trustworthy with it. You will be forced to conform too and you will do so because you need that job and you will get into that organization, but when you get there you won’t be given respect like most of your colleagues you will have to EARN the respect. You will probably be one of only a few other black men and everyone will have underlying feelings that you are there not on your merit, but as a result of some “diversity movement” or because affirmative action said they needed to hire one more person that looks like you. They will ask you questions like “how did you get this job?” Oh and please believe they will practice all of their “black jokes” around you and ask you all of their “black questions.” They will even make a derogatory statement about black people sometimes and then follow it up with “I’m not racist though because I have black friends.” Yeah son I’m only telling you this because I’ve lived it; but wait, there is more.
Sometimes you won’t be wearing that suit that you wear to work and you will be wearing some sweat pants and a hoodie. You will be wearing that hoodie and you will be walking down the street and see a group of Caucasian ladies and you will notice all of them clutch their purses a little harder as you pass them on the walk way. You will then be walking in a retail store and you will notice that the manager has made sure that “all eyes are on you.” You will feel violated because you will feel the tension in the store, but you better not say a word because you will then be making a scene and be labeled an angry black man. So instead you will just walk out of the store feeling defeated once again because the rules are different for you in America. Oh and please son don’t be with 3 of your other friends riding in a car with the music up and I will make sure you don’t get your windows tinted because you will one day be convicted of DWB (driving while black).
Does it sound fun yet son? Well I’m not done with you yet because if I don’t prepare you then I don’t know who will so keep reading. One day you and your friends will decide that you want to try something other than basketball or football, you know the “black sports,” and you will decide y’all want to try golf. You will set up a tee time at a country club. You and your other 3 friends will walk into the country club and you will immediately feel like you don’t belong and the people will stare at you as if they have seen a ghost. You and your friends will ignore it because you are used to being the minority in places, besides you were the only black guy on your baseball team in high school. You will feel like you have made it. That’s until you get on the greens and you are minding your own business, but little do you know eyes are on you again. The grounds men will come around constantly harassing you saying…”you need to speed up because we are getting complaints about your speed of play” (even though you know the rules and you are on pace). You will be told that there was some report of 5 people playing on a hole (even though it’s clearly only 4 of you there). Oh and please believe that the person that comes to tell you about these complaints will be the ONLY other black man that works at the golf course (ohhhh the irony). Needless to say son you won’t have a great time because no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to escape your blackness. Hold on Son…I know you are tired of listening but there is more….
One day you are going to decide that you are going to want to date and find a wife. You are going to be bombarded with statistics that say that black men don’t want to be husbands. That black men don’t take care of their families and that they are deadbeats. Black women will be told the same things and they will automatically feel like you aren’t to be trusted. Once again you will fight through it and try to prove everyone wrong. You will become a black professional man with a great job and you will find a wife and put her on a pedestal and treat her right, you will even vow to be the best father and role model you can be. Then just when you are exhausted from having to fight twice as hard as everyone else in America, and just when you feel like you have made it someone will look at you and say…”oh now you think you are too good, and you have forgotten where you came from.” And the cycle continues.
Son I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just trying to prepare you. You will be told that “times have changed” and you will be made to fill like your feelings are invalid because you shouldn’t “play the race card.” Son I tell you on this day, just in case I’m not here when these times come, that even though you didn’t choose to play this game, I encourage you to not only play it, but master it and after you master it I want you to do whatever it takes to be a GAME CHANGER! Live your life with purpose Son…this is my letter to you, but this is also my letter to me.
Xklusive Thoughts Fam get involved in the conversation: What are your thoughts on the Trayvon Martin verdict and what are your thoughts on what it’s like to be black in America?