A Letter to Our Beloved Sons
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
By Reverend Dr. D. Darrell Griffin
Presented by Omni-University
"What shall I do to give [them] strength
that [they] may come through life's adversities
as whole human being[s]
unwarped and human
in a world of biased laws and inhuman practices
that [they] might survive
And survive they must!...
I must find the truth of heritage for myself
and pass it in to them
In years to come I believe,
because I have armed them with the truth,
my children, and my children's children, will venerate me
for it is the truth that will set us free."1
Our sons are an incalculable gift that we must treasure. I was so honored and grateful to be chosen by God to be a father. I spend hours with God seeking the necessary guidance and wisdom to fulfill the responsibilities of fatherhood. My late and beloved father, Mr. Charles Edward Griffin, was a great role model who taught me how a man cares for his family.
One of the hardest assignments of fatherhood is raising young, talented, and gifted Black boys. Our current society treats boys of color with unreasonable indifference and immeasurable cruelty. I pray without ceasing for your protection and survival. I hope for the dawn of a day when you will no longer need "a protective mask." The COVID-19 pandemic requires a face covering over noses and mouths to prevent spreading this virus. As African American males, however, you need at least two protective coverings. First, you need a facial mask to protect you from contracting this potentially debilitating and fatal disease. You also require a second facial covering to protect you from the equally deadly virus of structural and societal racism. Both diseases, one stemming from epidemiological causes and the other emerging from a confluence of historically social, economic, political, and religious factors, can destroy and/or terminate your lives.
Global scientists are working tirelessly and painstakingly on a vaccine to eradicate the COVID-19 virus. My wholehearted wish is that governmental, academic, research, business, and religious communities within our global village would commit as forcefully to finding a cure for the pandemic of racism that annually affects more lives than COVID-19.
Each African American male acquires a protective mask on the day he is born. His birth is a simultaneous occasion of joy and sorrow as his family's awareness of the enduring pandemic of intractable racism, which remains deadly, is heightened. Like your countless African American male ancestors, you must bear the burden of wearing a mask, as your family struggles to change this systemic, familial, and personal reality. Though slave codes and Jim Crow laws have ostensibly been nullified, they have been replaced by "The New Jim Crow" as Michelle Alexander has documented. You, as an African American male, cannot leave your residence without proper state-sanctioned identification. Incredulously, walking and driving while being Black, with or without any forms of identification, could cost our life. Even holding academic degrees from schools like Morehouse College, Harvard Divinity School, and North Park Theological Seminary, which I possess, will not shield you from random police stops, illegal searches and seizures, and blatant harassment. Racial profiling remains an insidious and humiliating" rite-of-passage for all African American males.
Following the example of our ancestors, I draw upon our invaluable history, religion, and literature as we struggle to achieve self-determination as well as to survive this problematic reality. Until the day arrives when threats posed by both the Covid19 virus and the virus of racism are no longer a reality and no mask is needed to protect you from either, I offer these words to guide your journey toward the attainment of your divine and unique destiny as well as your seminal contribution to dismantling racism.
Develop and nurture a relationship with God. Your faith in God will enable you to triumph in all circumstances.
Remember that God wonderfully and creatively designed your life. You are not a mistake. Embrace your lineage of resilient and proud African-Americans. I urge you to say it often and loud, "I'm Black, and I'm proud!
Denounce stereotypes borne of exaggerations in social media and popular culture that portray you as "uneducated", "violent criminals", and "irresponsible" and "highly sexualized baby-makers", deserving of unbridled control by the American criminal justice system.
Dream without limits and believe that your dreams can become your reality.
Take your education seriously as it is one of the passports to your future and a means by which you can serve your people.
Become a life-long learner and teacher. Remain forever curious and studious as this motivates you to learn new information and exciting and invaluable knowledge.
Make helping others a priority. Your life has meaning to the degree that you uplift others. All of the privileges you may enjoy: your educational, economic, and material benefits, as well as your professional achievements, will not be based solely on your own efforts. They are the product of the sacrifices of previous generations of our ancestors whom you must honor and whose stories you must learn. In gratitude, create pathways for those who follow you.
As a member of the twenty-first-century global village, you have an obligation to educate ,to empower, and to transform your brothers and sisters in the African Diaspora. You cannot merely benefit from the blood, toil, and sacrifice of others who struggle[d] for freedom, equality, and justice. You must contribute to demolishing racism and misogyny in whatever forms they exist.
Carefully and prayerfully prepare your heart to receive and share love. Chose a life partner who will complement and strengthen you.
Always handle your business. If you are married, be faithful. If you have children, be present in their lives; guide and provide for them.
You will always have options. Choose the options that will give you more options. Some options lead to a dead-end, while others become highways toward and bridges of opportunities.
Remain vigilant and focus on your goals and dreams. "The man who chases two rabbits goes hungry."
Avoid distractions and aimlessness. Within your minds and hearts, you hold the dreams of our ancestors who experienced the Middle Passage, chattel slavery in the American South, as well as in the diaspora, segregation and Jim Crow and "The New Jim Crow" in America.
Never fail to remember God loves you unconditionally. I hope and pray that you learn to love and accept yourself as God does.
Live in the unquestionable certainty of my perfect love for and affirmation of you.
Finally, from the depths of my heart, I extend to you my beloved sons' affirmative thoughts and best wishes for health, wealth, happiness, and perfect self-expression.
1. "What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black...?" Dr. Margaret T.G. Burrows