Sons and daughters, please be careful as this is delicate ground. I don't want you to wallow in self-pity. I don't want you to be afraid. I don't want you to be stifled in your passion or creativity or enthusiasm. I don't want to take away from all of the LIFE that you have ahead of you!
But I want you to be aware.
Child, I know that you do not steal or disobey rules or break laws but there will be some who assume that you do simply because of the color of your skin. All the more reason to be sure that you NEVER give anyone reason to distrust you. Don't allow them to make stereotypes into truth.
Value your education. Some will falsely assume that you are uneducated or destined to be working class. Prove them wrong, all the while with manners, poise and class.
Respect authority. I say this not because I think you wouldn't but because it needs to be said. Racists are scary. Racists with power and weapons are terrifying.
My child, I want you to be PROUD of your beautiful skin, of your heritage and your culture. But I also want you to be safe. I want you to know that, outside of our family, our close-knit community, our safety zone, that others may not take the opportunity to get to know you before judging you. This is not your fault. And it breaks my heart that I cannot change their hearts.
In his famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." We're not there yet. And that is why mothers like me are still having these conversations with children like you.
Photo credit to Jayme Parker