She is a dear friend of mine that wrote a letter that shook me. I can only try to understand how this must feel but most importantly I owe joy and this letter a ton of respect.
It's titled "To the son I do not want to have". The title alone is a punch. What got me the most is her honesty. This past year, I've educated myself about African American history. At 27 I finally learned about the details of Selma. Twenty-Seven. Of course I knew of Dr. King and Malcom X but there is nothing stimulating about knowing a man's name. There's no truth in the spark notes. Cramming 245+ years of slavery into one multiple choice test is not enough. I can't help but challenge the school systems and ask why we don't take more time to learn about Jim Crow and how slavery came to be. Maybe teachers think there is enough of that but I sure as hell don't. As an adult white male, I've chosen to use my privilege to be active and exchange my tickets from spectator to participant. I am not posting this to spark a debate. There is no point in telling a person of any color that the pain they feel is wrong. Let anyone whom feels hurt breathe and tell their story. I am posting this to honor how Joy and I'm sure many black woman feel. Love and honest communication is how we can heal together. Thank you for being honest Joy.
Scott: What called for you to write this letter to your unborn son?
Joy: I wrote “To the son I do not want to have… a letter” out of frustration from the Ferguson shooting indictment. Although, this was not the first time that I’ve felt this way. I remember growing up in Liberty City, Miami Florida and seeing my father’s life threatened by police officers because he looked like the “right black guy”. I was in the car with him at the time and it was one of the first moments I realized that my strong father was seen as prey to the big bad wolves of law enforcement.
During my lifetime I have seen countless unarmed Black American men and women’s lives being taken from them because of blatant racism. Since 1999 over 76 deaths of African American men and women have been directly caused by police malpractice and brutality. Including those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sheneque Proctor, Eric Garner, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, Jordan Baker, Jonathan Ferrell and Shantel Davis. Black bodies that were once bought and paid for at a third of the price of an animal are now being returned in garbage bags filled with blood and bones .
I wrote that piece, because to me it would seem selfish to bring a child into this world. To be Black in America is to accept the baggage that comes with our soiled history. We are a proud people, we are a strong people, but we are still a very hurting people. We wear masks to hide our pain and smiles to distract from our tears.
Should I have a son one day, I am not light hearted about the extra steps required to raise a man of color in this world. I would see it as an honor, but I will be in constant fear of what now seems to be an inevitable tragedy.