Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dear Sons It's Winter Time And I Can't Sleep

Dear Sons;
November came in with a vengeance. I woke up and immediately knew why - my feet were so cold! I stuck my head outside the backyard door, my way of testing the temperature for the day and figuring out what to wear. While many love the feel of the cool brisk air, when I felt it my heart went into a panic. I used to love Winter as a child and now as a mother I loathe it.

Boys, I loathe it. As you grew up into wonderful fine young men I knew. I knew that protecting you from the sicknesses of the world would get harder. Winter was coming and it was more than the weather that I needed to shield you from.

You are amazing young men now. You are upstanding, civic minded, compassionate, kind and loving young men. You are Black Latino men. So when I picked and chose your scarves and your hats and outer wear I always had to keep that in mind. No dark scarves and hats for you. For years you all balked at the bright and very obvious hat wear I chose for you. You made faces and said people would laugh and and smiled and told you that unique and bright was not only the way to go but the way to be seen. Why no mother wants her child almost camouflaged out there with those ridiculous New York City drivers and in the Winter Time! I was always fearful of bad driving and weather conditions making that even worse but I was also fearful that Black Men in dark clothes made for bad judgment calls from sick, stupid and ignorant people. So yes, your mom was grateful for neon and fluorescent and anything else that made you all stick out like sore thumbs because at least you'd have a greater chance of coming home safe.

The years you had to wear preppy style clothing and never be seen as "bummy" or "casual" outside our doors were no different. It was about character my loves but not yours. The shady character of people out in the world ready to be judge and jury and make you their victim. All for being who you are. My not allowing you to wear hoodies (how was I to know a decade later just how right I was) or dark scarves that covered most of your faces. You were never ever allowed to wear ski masks. Now that you all ski and snowboard I worry about that too. Scarves and hoods that are meant to protect you from the elements, keep your head warm and yet now only makes you yet another target and what's worse, now from the very people you expected to protect to.

I spun stories of how being unique in your style and learning to tune out the opinions of others made you into stronger men and I wasn't wrong about that. Yet I knew in my heart I had more motive to do so, to keep you safe from the injustices of others and allowing you a sliver of a childhood others enjoyed without any interruption.

You are all older now, on your own and you pick and choose what to wear as you please. You are wonderful men and so now I say it for you to hear it as clear as day. Do not wear dark clothes this Winter or hats and hoodies that conceal your face. Wear scrunchy wool hats and ear muffs and bright colored scarves. Don't wear worn out footwear or jeans when you go out. Please please don't wear hoodies but use thick scarves to guard your neck and shoulders from the cold. I say all this simply because you are Black and Latino. I say this because you are men. I say this because in this country you will be seen as invisible and used to make someone else's point all because all you were looking to do was try to stay warm.
Yes, I used to love Winter as a child but then I grew up and become a mother. A mother to amazing Black Latino boys and now I hate the Winter.
Please stay warm and always remember what I taught you and stay safe.

Love always,
Your Mom

Carmen M. Colon is a mother, an engineer by trade, an education and childrens advocate, an author and a workshop facilitator on the topics of leadership, womens empowerment, career advancement and parenting.
She is writing a book on a series of "Dear Sons" letters to her three sons on an array of topics and issues.
Carmen's website is http://carmenmcolon.info
Carmen's books can be found online at both Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/carmencolon
and Barnes and Noble at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/carmen-m-colon.