Dear Gabriel my angel,
I am worried that despite my best efforts: I will fail you.
Mommy has always told you to be honest, but there is one thing I have worked my hardest to shield you from. There will come a time when I will no longer be able to protect you. I am not sure when you transition from my beautiful boy to a threat in the eyes of a nation. I have been told that it is the third grade. They begin counting, building and plotting. Long before the corona pandemic, there has been a pandemic amongst those who brought us here over 400 years ago. The disease of racism and the dis-ease connected to your ancestral roots.
Listen to me, I will try to teach you how to protect yourself. Baby, is it not fail-proof and there is no way to be sure that you are safe. Society expects you to play a role in order to have some modicum of safety. Some say it's code switching, a role we’ve all had to play. Some say a necessary evil, a way you must carry yourself in society in order to not to be feared. While we are praised and imitated for our creativity and ingenuity. Our expression of our blackness is a threat. Because of this, my baby, you are washed of your potential. Either you are to aspire to be a rapper or an athlete. These are viewed as the only ways to escape generational poverty and systematic oppression.
With the pandemic, we have been encouraged to wear masks, however, those who are to protect and serve wear masks as well. But once those masks come off, those who are supposed to protect you, hunt you. My precious son, you are as majestic as the African elephant, but like the elephant, you are killed for sport.
You may ask “Where is safe, mommy?”
During the storm, my bed feels safe to you.
Because of the melanin in your skin, the place in which you should have rest is not truly safe.
When we go for walks in the neighborhood, you feel safe.
In this skin it is a risk just to walk around.
Yes, you are the fastest boy I know. Just like Flash the superhero. But Ahmad taught us it is not safe to run.
See, my baby, they are taught to be predators and you the prey.
You know how friendly you are and you like to talk to everyone. Ask Emmitt.
Just ask Philando.
The officer who murdered him was trained as a “warrior,” but warriors are not terrorists.
Baby, you are my sunshine. You are my laughter. My light. You are smart and bright. Despite those things you are a threat in the eyes of those who chose to misunderstand your humanity based on the melanin.
When “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men were created equal” was written by our forefathers, baby, you were not in mind.
I know you don’t understand when Mommy is tense and scolds you, as you are just a boy. You are my boy. You are my baby. You are my world. Precious in my sight and the Lord’s.
But if I am the mule of the world, baby, you are the scapegoat of the nation.
And I do not know if I will be able to protect you from the minds of men whose hearts are turned against you.
If I could, in order to protect you I would take your place, baby. Do not live in fear but always give grace. It may seem unfair, and there is a lot of anger out there, but we cannot overcome hate with hate. Many question why we have to forgive. And it is simple. We are the antidote to the poison. The answer to our equality is within us.
Take your position son. Justice and liberty are within you. Carry the battle on and set us free. The work is plentiful but the laborers are few.
The tide is changing. Position yourself. For a new day is coming.
Ceminthia Graham is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and trauma expert. She is the founder of Uproots, a movement to liberate high achieving and successful women from their past trauma.