An Open Letter To My Young Black Nephew And Cousin

An Open Letter To My Young Black Nephew And Cousin

Here is the blueprint to survive in racist America

Dear Marcus and Sariah,

You've recently turned eight years old this past April and June and have come a long way from being little stink pots. The both of you are thriving in elementary school, socially and academically.

I know you guys are still young, but it’s going to become increasingly hard to shield you guys from the media that portrays the African American community in a negative way. As black people, we have been fighting for our rights since the day we arrived on the east coast in shackles. We had to fight after slavery was finally abolished, and after civil rights laws were passed in our favor, but we still have a long way to go. On the scale of social and racial hierarchy in America, blacks are at the bottom. It’s as if when you’re born a black man or woman in this country, you’re life is already ruined.

To my nephew, you’ll probably have to deal with people assuming you’re a thug or looking at you suspiciously when you walk to the local store because you have a hoodie on. They just don’t know that you’re wearing it because it’s cold. You might have to deal with store employees following you around, as they assume you’re going to shoplift. Teachers and counselors might not think you qualify for the top-notch colleges in the country. But I know that you’re bright; you even taught me Spanish and French. They’ll even be micro-annoyances, like when someone assumes you must be a Kanye West or Future enthusiast, but who knows, you might love Beethoven. However, it’s your choice, as you don’t need to be conditioned into what popular culture to consume. It doesn’t hurt to learn more about African American arts and media. If a police officer stops you for no valid reason when you’re driving or walking out in public, don’t pull out anything, don’t run and comply with him. Not because he’s right, but because we don’t want to see you on the 6 o’clock news as another tragedy.

Last piece of words to my nephew. Just know that in life, there are no handouts, you have to work for what you want. When it comes to dating, it’s okay to be with people outside your race, but never ever bash black women. It’s ignorant and insulting to your black mother, grandmother and soon to be little sister. Also, be very accepting and tolerant of the LGBTAQ+ community. They may identify different from you, but they’re just like everyone else.

To my cousin, even Malcolm X said it himself: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” As being a girl in general, you're going to go through other troubles, aside from being black. People will try to put down or mock your beautiful locks, braids or afro you have on any given day. Just stay strong and bold, however, never let white people feel on your hair. You are not a pet and this is not a petting zoo. When you’re young, unfortunately, you have the tendency to care what people think. The media or even the people you run into might say “Black girls are ratchet, ”“black girls are loud,” “black girls are money-hungry.” Try your best to curve these ignorant comments. Always think of the phrases “Black girl magic” and “Black girls rock.” Because these phrases are completely accurate. Always think about the endless opportunities you have in life. The best cliche around is doing anything you put your mind too. Always strive to do your best in school, even when the work gets harder. Know that black woman are in every career that you think of. Serena Williams is in professional sports. Mae Jemison is a successful astronaut and scientist. Oprah Winfrey, the biggest entrepreneur. Alexa Canady, who became the first African American female neurosurgeon. Beyonce, the biggest musician in the world.

Despite you living in a crime-filled neighborhood, always do the right things. Which means, be careful of who you hang out with and stay out of trouble in and out of school. Black women are sadly also targets of police brutality, as exemplified by the unfortunate death of Sandra Bland. Always put people in their place when asking stupid questions like: “Can you teach me how to twerk?" or “Are you wearing a weave?” What hairstyles you rock is your business, and if you feel like twerking, then that’s your choice. It doesn’t make you any less a person. Lastly, always love your chocolate skin complexion. Like J.Cole said, “There’s no need to fix what God put his paintbrush on."

Someday you will understand.

Love, your cousin/uncle Khaaliq

Cover Image Credit: Pittsburgh Urban Media

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

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