My dear three princes,
I have prayed for you since I’ve known about you. From the very moment I became aware of the gravity and blessing of motherhood, my prayers lengthened, my spirituality strengthened.
Your Aunt Pam called to congratulate me with each of your arrivals, telling me how blessed I was to have the privilege of raising sons, black baby boys who I had been gifted to guide into adulthood. Your great Aunt Wilhemenia told me never to make a promise with you that I couldn’t keep. And your Nana–my momma– told me never to give up on you no matter how challenged I may feel as a mother.
Now, 22, 20, and 12 years after your wondrous births, I keep these sentiments close to my heart.
But in my heart resides the prayer that petitions specifically for your safety, your eventual realization that happiness comes from within your soul, your ability to face the trials and tribulations of life with grace, and your deep, abiding faith and belief in the power of prayer. So when I woke up with Trayvon Martin on my mind, my own spirit grieved by his senseless and torturous death at the hands of a bigot who failed to recognize the divinity of humanity, I felt compelled to write you this love letter.
Trayvon is this generation’s Emmett Till, the young southern teenager who lost his life when he was accused of whistling at a young White woman. His body was found, disfigured from being tortured before and perhaps after he took his last breath. He was thrown away as if he were a rumpled piece of trash that had blown into the path of a transfer truck, then kicked around only to land somewhere in no man’s land far away from home. His mother insisted on an open casket to bring attention to the inhumanity of man (oxymoron perhaps?), while we prayed and insisted that this should never happen again. This was in 1955, and it definitely wasn’t the first– you are aware of the history of your forebears– or the last incident of its type. Trayvon, 17 years old, was murdered under the same circumstances: someone took his life merely because his arrogance told him he could. This was on February 26, 2012.
That’s why I hesitate when you ask to walk to the store, or when you asked to go out with friends at night. I knew — and still know– that as Black males you are at risk. At risk of being accused of something you haven’t even considered doing, at risk of merely minding your own business in the wrong place at the wrong time. You are precious and there are few who acknowledge and respect that. That’s why when you question my “over-protectiveness” I simply tell you that ‘people can be so mean.’
It grieves my spirit to be reminded constantly of this truth, and it didn’t occur to me that you would literally experience its illustration.
So take heed sons. It is humbling to always remember who some think you are, but WHOSE you are trumps the secular humanist perspective any day. Trayvon not only died for you, but he lives on in you. You will be a constant reminder of the fact that no matter how menacing and malicious or covert and passive the effort, you will never go away. Your presence and its effect on this earth will never be diminished.
Take the baton my princes, and press toward the mark.