A letter from a Black mother, to her Black son

To my black son,

Though I am writing you this letter just in time for the beginning of Black History Month, I want you to know that every day is a reason to celebrate you. To celebrate us—our culture, our history, our people.

Your skin is a treasured thing. Much strife has been raised of it, but many testimonies have also become of it. I pray that you will always acknowledge and remember the trials that brought us to our triumphs. In doing so, you will have a deeper appreciation for who you are and the history that you come from.

Related: The untold stories of the mothers of our Black History Month heroes

You may not understand now, but as you grow my hope is that you will remember all the proverbs I have woven into your mind, your heart and your soul. Proverbs about what our people have gone through, what we have overcome and how we continue paving the way for ourselves and the generations to follow.

Sometimes the world will try to name us as storms, as people who only bring about destruction and mayhem. May you never see that as truth, but if anything can be taken from that, it’s knowing you have the power to stir up the very ground on which you walk upon.

Use that to your advantage. Use that as a good thing. Use that to make a difference.

Through this life, you may experience injustice and other forms of oppression that make you question yourself. There will be people who will want to shield you from seeing your true worth, from understanding your true value. They will try their best to make you doubt your capabilities. But in moments like those, remember your foundation.

Remember how I affirm you daily. Remember the truths that your father and I pour into you, and then go out into the world and pour into others. Uplift others. And spread love and kindness all around you.

My womb was the genesis of your sweet revolution.

To my black son, if nothing else, know this: You have the love of a black mother surrounding you, and it will be your constant even when the world treats you like you have no place here.

It will be a reminder that you do have a place here, because I formed you. My womb was the genesis of your sweet revolution. I pushed you out into this world for a reason, to fulfill a purpose that surpasses even my own understanding. And my only hope is to have the chance to witness you carry out your calling—and even lead others into their own.

Though your skin is not the entirety of who you are as a being, it is a huge part of molding you into the man you’re meant to be. Your father and I can only do so much to help sculpt you, but there is a time when you will have to carry the greater end of the torch.

May it never become a burden or a binding, but the one thing that gives you wings and sets you free to exist fully. May you learn from those remembered and given homage during Black History Month, as well as those who surround you every single day. May you forever know your heritage as a glorious thing.

To my black son, there is something inside of you. I saw it from the very moment you were born, and you will spend the rest of your life finding that greatness within yourself and sharing it with those blessed to encounter you in this lifetime—even if just for a mere moment.

Related: 26 picture books to read with your kids during Black History Month (and every month of the year)

You may have to prove your worth more than others, but don’t ever let that make you feel unworthy or incompetent. Because you have the heart of your mother and father—and you are destined to do and receive great things.

This world won’t ever guarantee your protection. It won’t always lend you a resting place that is safe and sound. But my dear son, find rest in the communal spaces that were designed to hold you, to lift you up and to help you rise.

Your family is one of those spaces. May the friendships that you form become such a space. May the passions you pursue afford you that space. And if nothing else, may you always, always find that space within yourself. I love you.

Motherly Stories are first person, 500-1000 word stories, reflecting on the insights you’ve experienced in motherhood—and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way. They also help other women realize they’re not alone. Motherly Stories don’t judge. Instead, they inspire other mamas with stories of meaning, hope and a realization that “you’ve got this.” If you have a story, please submit it here: https://www.mother.ly/share-your-story/