As a kid, the idea that Black was beautiful was drilled into my head. I grew up in a cocoon deliberately woven by my mother and my teachers to shield me from a prejudiced society. They created a virtuous echo chamber reverberating with messages about my beauty and intelligence.

The gap-toothed smile I had until I lost my baby teeth? A symbol of my classic West African beauty, my Liberian mother said. The racialized beauty standards that threatened my self-esteem were a no-go for my mom, who bought me only Black Barbie dolls for most of my girlhood.

As a kid, I attended school assemblies where Black dancers twirled, gracefully and majestically to the steady thrum of African drums. It was there that I learned the history of Kwanzaa and that the black, red and green candles in the Kwanzaa kinara (candle holder) represented the common African heritage that connected Black people, “the blood they had shed for freedom,” and the African continent’s abundant mineral and agricultural riches.

These things reminded me, as Black media giant Michaela Angela Davis once wrote, that “it was a privilege a blessing not a burden to be young gifted and black.” Now that I’m all grown up, I appreciate my mother’s and school’s efforts to center blackness in my life. They gave me “batik-colored” glasses that I could see myself through in a white-washed world.

And whenever I behold an unbearably cute brown baby, I know I’ll want to do the exact same thing for my kid that my mother did for me. If my child identifies as a boy, I know I’m going to paper his bedroom walls with images of a young Paul Robeson in his football gear, John Stewart’s “Green Lantern,” and Brother Malcolm’s august and handsomely attired form.

I’m going to make sure he grows up in his own cocoon where mantras about Black boy positivity, like the ones in Esperanza Spalding’s song “Black Gold,” play endlessly on loop. I’m going to make sure I teach him the wonderful and incalculable value of being Black.

But sometimes I can’t help but wonder if it will be enough that my unborn son knows his worth when he will live in a society that doesn’t.

The truth is, in a country where men like Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman can violently act out their prejudice against Black bodies and not be punished for it, in the words of spoken word poet Jasmine Mans, “I am just afraid to raise a Black son…who has to be a martyr for a war that he ain’t ever ask for.” I am just afraid to raise a son who will, by virtue of inheriting the physical markers of blackness from me, be deemed guilty of committing what philosopher George Yancy called the “ontological crime” of being Black.

In her poem “Black Son,” Jasmine Mans beautifully unpacks the peculiar calculus some Black women must perform as they reckon with the fact that their sons are born into a country that, to quote Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, “was built on the notion that Black people were an inherent threat to it.”

When describing Black mothers’ pain, Jasmine Mans writes: “loving something so disposable never sat well in the bodies or hearts of mothers trying to catch a break.” This verse captures my fear, the proto-anxiety I feel when I deeply consider how the world will treat my unborn son. When I say I’m afraid to raise a Black son, I mean that I’m afraid to love something that the world sees as “so disposable.” Ultimately all human life is fragile, but the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis show us that the lives of black boys can be disproportionately ephemeral.

The words of Jordan Davis’ killer Michael Dunn are a window in this part of the American psyche that views Black boys as less than the human beings that they are.

In a letter to a family member Dunn writes:

The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. If more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.

Dunn also exemplified his low regard for Black life by referring to his Black cellmates as “animals.”

The Michael Dunns of the world don’t exist in a vacuum; they are products of a culture that willfully understands loud rap music and hoodies as markers of deviant behavior that merits a violent reaction. That Michael Dunn can shoot into a car of unarmed teenagers 10 times and still see himself as a victim speaks volumes about not only who he is, but who we, as Americans, are.

I’m afraid to raise a Black son because of people like Michael Dunn. I’m afraid of their fear, “a fear as old as fire and rope,” and I’m afraid of their ignorance. I’m afraid of an America that refuses to come to terms with the reality of the racism it perpetrates. I’m afraid of an America that still thinks that racism must look like white hoods and swastika tattoos in order to be dangerous.

My kid deserves to be able to grow up with the right to express his full humanity in all of its messiness and its gloriousness. He deserves to grow up in a country where the right to be human isn’t locked away behind a door marked “Whites Only.”

Racists aren’t just hateful trolls that spend hours on message boards gleefully arguing the merits of segregation. They are entrepreneurs who wear nice suits as they beam with pride at their kid’s wedding. They live next door to you and they wave to you as you take out your garbage. They live beneath our skin and stare back at us in the mirror as we brush our teeth in the morning. The racists aren’t out there somewhere. Ultimately, they’re in us. We must confront them if we’re going to create a world where my children, and all children can live without a death warrant stamped on their chest.

Assita Camara is a writer and self-taught digital marketer whose work has been featured on Clutch Magazine, The Washington Times and She frequently writes about black culture, art and identity. When she’s not doing the “I woke up like dis” dance, she’s likely indulging her inner fangirl by watching too many “Legend of Korra” re-runs. She is based in North Carolina.

Inline image 1

This post originally appeared on xoJane. Republished with permission

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. I hear you. I love my brown baby boy but I feared loving him, having him, adopting him, because of the city I live in, the country we call home. Mothers continue to have babies because they carry hope in their heart. My son changed my life. He changed my focus. His birth caused the activist to be born in me. I believe that parents are change agents. That knowledge is the most dangerous weapon. A woman who thinks like you do is destined to be the great mother of a beautiful brown boy(s) (and girls). My Russian friend, a mother, says there is a saying in her country, “Hope dies last.”

  2. I enjoyed your post. I don’t see color. I teach my children not to see color either. After all, we ALL bleed the same color!

  3. To every woman its always a joy that after marriage the next should be holding her child, I did gave birth to mine but after 4 months I lost her and since then I have not been able to conceive again for the past 7 years after I lost my child. I have been to so many hospitals and I have done series of tests. Though I have a very supporting and understanding husband but I was always thinking about it. It became my major problem every time I see children calling their mommy .i was willing to do any thing and willing to pay any price at all just to have a child of mine own. So one day I came across a post of this man and how he has been helping people of the same problem, I told my husband about it and he said will should give him a try and this is the last, I immediately contacted him on the address I found on the net and I got to he. I told him all that I have been facing and if there is any solution to mine to my greatest surprise he told me to calm down that I was going to have a child soon I did not believe it. He told me that he was going to send me medicine which he did and advice that I should meet with my husband which I did. After some weeks I was feeling really weak I told my husband about it. The next morning I went for a check up after the test I was told by my doctor that I am pregnant I could not believe it I was happy in side but I could not control it so I have to show it out with a tears. Am so happy now because he has restore my life and my home. if you are reading this comment and you have the same problem or you know any one of the same problem please contact him. Here are his contacts or call him on +2348169591194

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.