A Letter to My Son: The Perils of Raising a Black Man in America

Dear Stephen E. Beaven III (or, as we call you, Trey!)

     You are by far the most beautiful and amazing baby boy I’ve ever met, I can honestly say that because 1. I gave birth to you 2. We prayed for you to be great even before you were born. Your Dad and I are so happy that you joined your sister. Even though you were a surprise to us, we know that most blessings begin as surprises. My greatest wish for you is that you never doubt that you are so loved by your family,  and that you know that we would sacrifice anything to ensure that you are safe and whole.

I think most parents would say that about their children: but – and it pains me to say this to you, Son- everyone in society may not value and love you the way that we do. You come from extremely strong men, your Dad, both of your Grandfathers, and your two Uncles, all hardworking men, all extremely talented, and generous. Traits that I know they are going to instill in you. But I also know that some people may not take the time to get to know you. I know that even though it’s 2017, you may still be judged by the color of your skin. 


Uncle Stephen, Pop-Pop, Trey and Daddy

Daddy and Paw Paw

Uncle Shawn






At the ultrasound when we found out that we were having a boy, we were so excited. We joked, “a boy for your Dad” since your sister was already Mama’s girl. But, for me, that excitement was tempered by angst. As Mothers who have had, are having, or are raising a Black male, we are fearful. We are fearful that nothing is enough in the face of a society that continues to fear Black men. We are fearful that the world has yet to come to terms with the fact that not every black male is a threat. We are fearful because we know the mechanisms of systemic racism: we know about the over-incarceration of Black males, we know about the killing of unarmed Black boys, and we know that teachers focus on the behavior of Black boys differently than they do their White counterparts. 

The fact of the matter is that you aren’t different from most young black men. No different from Tamir, Trayvon, Mike, Emmitt, Eric, Sean, or even Philando. Your city may be different, your family may be different, your upbringing may be different, but you all have one thing in common…..you’re Black men in America. As a mom, there is a very specific and real pain that I feel for each of these young men and their families. It seemed like every time we would turn on the news, we would see something about another young man being murdered. With every news story, my heart would skip a beat and tears would begin to fall. What if that were my son? I don’t know them, but I am like them. I am connected at the heart to a sweet, Black boy.

My sweet, Trey, I wish I could tell you that everyone will adore you and respect your boundaries and believe you and give you the benefit of the doubt. But, and I tell you this as your mother- because it is my charge to keep you safe and teach you. Even if the rest of the world isn’t ready for you, don’t let them cage you in with hatred. Respect people, even if they may not return it.                                                 



And the truth is, even after all of this, I am hopeful. Why? Because I believe in you! I truly believe that you will always be the most beautiful, smart and caring boy and as you enter manhood, you will take these traits with you.

And, maybe most importantly, as your parents it is our job to remain prayerful for you! Someday, you will know the names I mentioned above and you will understand their circumstances individually, and you will have the ability to form your own opinions. As you grow and learn, my hope for you is that you know how much we love you, we respect you, and that you learn to leave situations better than how you entered them. And believe it or not, despite everything I’ve mentioned here, I am hopeful. Nothing will take away my hope, Trey- and don’t let anything take yours away, either. 

Trey, you’ve already made me incredibly proud of you, and my prayer for you nightly is that you remain generous, talented, and grateful. As much as we want to keep you in the house and lock the doors, it’s impossible for us to shelter you from the cruel realities of the world. If we did that, we would also be sheltering you from all of the good in the world! 

Be smart, be strong, be kind, be patient. Work for progress. It is not up to you to change other people’s minds: so only focus on being the best possible version of yourself…even if people don’t receive it. We have faith in you, and we know that the world is already a better place, simply because you’re in it.


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3 Responses to A Letter to My Son: The Perils of Raising a Black Man in America

  1. Clara June 24, 2017 at 12:38 am #

    A beautifully written letter! Never underestimate the power of a praying mother and may God protect your son and embolden him to be the best version of who he was created to be!

    • DeAndrea Beaven June 27, 2017 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you for reading Clara! I’m in constant prayer and gratitude with my son and for my son!

  2. Sondra YeVette June 29, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

    Awesomely written DeAndrea, as a member of your family and of the Universal Family I include in the prayers every black family raising a son.I pray daily for the World, for peace and harmony, respect one to another; for the “do no harm consciousness” to reign supreme in this World.
    I pray for our race in particular and personally your husband, his Father, my nephews and the black men in our family; all good men with good hearts who just want to love and be loved.
    It seems that no matter what black men do or say or what we black women do or say we are constantly judged as less than, inferior. In my opinion and what I hear from others is there is a constant pressure of always needing to do more and work harder just to be accepted.
    I don’t know how this or when this is going to change but I do know that love is the answer; prayer is the answer. The portion of people that don’t know this is growing smaller and smaller everyday.
    Certain portions of the news media tend to magnify and focus on the differences and the divide…what you focus on tends to expand so I rebuke that!
    I work to focus on the love, the common denominator of all religions; what God is , what we are. I know that someday, I don’t know when but soon; loves going to change the way of the World!
    Love and Many Blessings.

    Some things you might appreciate…

    Written by Edward Howard sung thru Donny Hathaway- A beautiful Reminder of Truth!


    I want to share with you this profound letter of apology written thru spiritual author Marianne Williamson- I admire so much of her body of work

    Prayer of Apology to
    African Americans

    On behalf of myself, and on behalf of my country, to you and all African Americans, from the beginning of our nation’s history, in honor of your ancestors and for the sake of your children, please hear this from my heart…
    I apologize,
    please forgive us.

    With this prayer I acknowledge the depth of evils that have been perpetrated against black people in America.
    From slavery, to lynchings, to white supremacist laws, to the denial of voting rights, to all the ways both large and small, that abuses have occurred — all of them evil, all of them wrong.
    For all the oppression and all the injustice…
    I apologize,
    please forgive us.

    For the denial of human and civil rights, for inequities in criminal justice, for instances of police brutality, for the denial of opportunity, for economic injustice, for all ways that racism has fostered these wrongs…
    I apologize,
    please forgive us.

    With this prayer I acknowledge the beauty and genius of your culture, the power and genius of those who came before you, of your children and all your descendants. With this prayer we pray that you, your children, and especially your men be blessed and protected.
    May your men be blessed and protected.
    May your men be blessed and protected.

    May all your men, women and children be surrounded by angels at this time.

    Dear God, may a great healing occur.
    We place in your hands the relationship between black and white Americans.
    May we be lifted high above the walls that divide us.
    May our hearts be awakened to our truth of our oneness.
    May racism and prejudice be no more.
    May they dissolve in the presence of Your love.
    Please come upon us and heal our hearts.

    To you, my African American fellow citizen, please accept my apology on this day. It is to you and your grandparents, and their grandparents before them, and their grandparents before them.

    May the screams that were not allowed, be allowed now.
    May the cries that were never heard be heard now.
    May the tears that were never heard be heard now.
    And may the healing begin.

    In this sacred container, may the healing begin.
    May the Light of love now heal us all.

    –Marianne Williamson

    Focus on the Good, Focus on the Love, FOR ALL OF US; THIS I PRAY! Sincerely, Sondra

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