To My Unborn Son: On Mike Brown, Police Brutality and the Fears of Black Motherhood

I am fearful. For the moment you are conceived, I can no longer protect you. For the moment your budding body begins to push against the confines of my belly, you are under attack. For the moment you come out kicking and screaming, drawing your first breath, you are at war. For no reason other than the greatest gift I can give you: my Blackness.

Baby, the world you will fill does not want you. Though it needs your strength, your tenacity, your softness, your kindness, your voice, it does not want you. And this stirs up a tumultuous, turbulent wind within my soul. For I already dream about the warmth of your smile and the grace in your touch. For I already dream about the possibilities twinkling in your eye.

But I know they will try to strip you of your right to be. Where you push, they will push harder. Where you enter, they will promptly show you the exit. Where you speak, they will silence you. But you must push, you must enter, and you must speak. You must be.

Still, I am fearful. For there, on the concrete, lay the lifeless body of Michael Brown – slain in broad daylight under the heat of the summer sun. And baby, I am fearful. For I know the same sun will shine on you.

My heart beats heavily for his mother. I encourage her as she summons the strength she must now show in this hour of vulnerability and transforms into the beacon of light she must be in the darkness of this space. But yet, I am fearful, for I know her tears may very well become my own.

I wish I could take this moment to reminisce on a time when Black motherhood was easy, and I wish that I could find reassurance in the stories of my foremothers. But I cannot, because the overarching darkness imposed by this world threatens to take you away from me. It always has.

Black mothers have known and continue to know the weight of birthing life into these conditions. We knew it in 1662, when law dictated the very chains of our enslavement to be inheritable. We are reminded of it when our daughters and our sons are stripped down because of the midnight blacks, chocolate browns, caramels, and high yellows we have given them. And I am reminded of it, dread at knowing it when I muse about the beauty of brown masterfully coating your limbs.

Even now, I fret about how best to prepare you to cope with the weight of this world without nullifying the virtue of your station in life. For you will know community, brotherhood, and love; but forces outside of your control threaten to nullify your very existence. Your teachers will see a man in the little body you inhabit, and law enforcement will see you as a menace, a risk.

And nothing can protect you from this, not even your mommy, though I will try, as I try now to preserve my hopefulness in this continuum of hopelessness.

But still, how do I prevent the very real dangers surrounding you from crushing and overwhelming the sanctity of your childhood? I believe there is a God, and I believe in the power of his wonders, the strength in his protection. But to see your forefathers and brothers butchered, annihilated by the very forces sworn to protect them, it leaves me anxious. And I am anxious for I know myself to not be strong enough to lose you, even now.

Am I to present these perils to you up-front and repetitively? Am I to be harsh, or gentle? Am I to tell you to take the submissive, but safe route by maintaining an almost nauseating degree of respect for law enforcement? Or am I to encourage you to assert your rights firmly? Or am I to pretend, dream that you will know this world differently than I do now?

I am nineteen, and ideally, you are years away from me. I promise that I will better grasp how to tackle this dilemma by the time you arrive. But now, still, I worry; and still, I am fearful. For the joy of the bond we will share will always be overshadowed by the gnawing truth that I have birthed you into a world in which you are out of place. I yearn for you, but yet I am discouraged, intimidated.

But still, I know that I will learn how to aid you in developing into the man you desire to be, have been called to be. Even now, I know that you are being fashioned into a purpose, destined for greatness in your own right, and even now, I know that you are loved.

And still, even now, I know that I must give you a chance, even when the rest of the world will not.

Krislyn Domingue is a rising sophomore, Sociology & Anthropology and Comparative Women’s Studies double major at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys reading, writing, and sipping Chai Tea. Email:; Twitter: @krislynsd.

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