“I as a black woman am afraid. I am afraid for the black man I love. Will his professional football uniform give him more immunity than his black one? I am afraid for the black brother I protect. Will his baseball jersey protect him like it does for the ones in white skin? I am afraid for the black man that raised me. Will his white collar uniform provide him with a safety shield more than his black skin uniform will? I am afraid for my unborn black son. Will his career and earning income portray as a shield to his life? There are times I wonder about bringing a son into this world. But I refuse to allow the sins of this world to damage my life. I refuse to allow the corrupt individuals of the police society to succeed in decreasing the amount of black men on this earth. They will not win. I will bring my doctor, lawyer, athlete or teacher into this world and he will succeed. He will be judged by his successes and accomplishments not by his black skin colored uniform”.
This is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote 3 years ago now. And the death of Nipsey Hustle reminds me just how relevant it still is.
When I first wrote this post little man Tate wasn’t even thought of and I was afraid. Afraid of what the world would be like. Afraid of what it might mean for my little black boy. Just, afraid.
And now when I look in the eyes of my little black boy I feel the same fear. Fear that whether at the hands of a blue uniform or a friend from around the way, my little guy will be taken from me. As black women it’s time we stand up and protect our kings. For me, that comes from teachings.
Dear Black Mothers,
Your son is not your little boyfriend. He is your son.
Your son is not the head of your household. He is a child.
Your son is not expected to “protect and provide” right now. He is expected to learn and grow.
Stop setting these adult expectations in the mind of children and yet expect him to stay in the place of a child.
As a single mother, I’m raising my son different. Let’s get something squared away before we start. When I say single I mean as in a single parent household where I am the only caretaker of my son in my immediate household, NOT that his father is not in his life.
Okay, let’s continue. A lot of time in today’s society of young single mothers you see the statements above happen very often. There’s a cute picture of mom and son where the baby boy is dressed in too many layer of expensive fabric that he can barely breath and to his right is his mother dressed in the same amount of expensive fabric with a caption that reads “my king and protector”. WRONG. That poor little 4 year old ain’t protecting nothing but his Spiderman toy. But it is this mindset given to these young men so that when they hit 16 years old they think it is their job to “protect and provide” for a household they did not create.
The absence of a father in the home does not mean it is time for a immature young man to step up and do things out of their scope of practice.
Let me explain. Yes, there are times you may need him to be a little more independent.I.e. mommy has to do homework I need you to be able to wash your own clothes at the age of 10. However, given the perception of “provide and protect” is what causes many young black men to think they need to sell drugs at the age of 16 to bring money into a household, that, again, they did not create. The mindset is not only cruel and unfair to a young child, it is isn’t right.
The death of Nipsey Hustle yesterday hit us all hard. I as someone who doesn’t know many of his albums, still felt like I lost a best friend. But as our owner Shanicia wrote yesterday, I felt for Lauren. I cannot imagine loosing the man I love. It would break me to my core. More importantly, he left behind children, and it will break them to their core. We are now presented with two more truly single mothers, one who is expected to raise a black king. As women we cannot teach a man to be a man. But we sure can help.
Here are 3 tips for placing your son in the right places:
1. Education. Just like J. Cole said, “I turn the TV on not one hero in sight. Unless he dribbles or fiddles with mics”. My son will know different. Education places young black men in the room with other black men who are doctors, lawyers, etc. And education doesn’t just have to be college.It can be seminars, public speaking events and more.
2. TV. Yes shows like the wire are amazing, but it engrains that same thought process in the brain that drugs is the only way to get money in the hood. Play shows in your home that show black men in other important roles. Teach them, the side of not only Nipsey’s rap but his entrepreneur side that just purchased an entire shopping mall in his neighborhood.
3. Affirmations. Alright if you follow me then you know I love me some affirmations. Speak life over that young black boy. You are smart. You can be anything in the world you want to be. You have the power to break generational curses. Put into him what he needs to hear so when the world tries to tell him otherwise he will be equipped to stand up and say nope, not what my mama told me.
I fear for my black son. But all I can do is equip him with all I know of to ensure he will later in life make the right choices. I cannot force or control his life. But through prayer I can know who will always cover him. And through actions I can instill in him all the things I think will help him succeed as a black man later in life. Until then, I will hold him close.