A Letter to My Son About His Privilege

Dear my sweetest Little Love,

You are only 5 months old, but you’ll grow up in a blink of an eye. And that’s when I’ll show you this letter.

These days, the term “white privilege” gets thrown around so much. I hate to say it but you will be seen as having it, especially because you are a male.

Mommy and Daddy are going to work very hard to make sure you have everything you need in life. Notice I said “need.” It’ll be up to you for a lot of things. But we’ll have that discussion a little later. Your ancestors had to work even harder to make sure they could survive. And I never want you to forget that.

On Mama’s side, you’re part Mexican. Some may say you don’t look it at all and it may be easy to forget at times. So that’s why I always want you to remember.

You may know by now, but your grandpa never taught me Spanish. He grew up in a time where he would be treated very differently if he even uttered one phrase in anything other than English. His mom and dad had 8 children and wanted the best for their kids, the same way I want that for you. So if he wanted to continue his schooling, the only time he could speak Spanish was in the home.

My dad proudly received his high school diploma and hit the ground running from there. He worked very hard at every job he had and even rose in the ranks a few times, without a college degree. When he met your grandma they both didn’t have a lot of money and already had kids. They worked extra hours and even side jobs to make sure your uncles and I could attend private school. They wanted us to be better. And that’s what I want for you.

On face value many people thought I was just a rich, white, private school girl. People will think similar things about you baby boy, but never let that influence your attitude. You still have to push and work very hard and absolutely never look down on anyone.

While your daddy’s story is much different, he had his fair share of obstacles. His family also moved to a new country for a better life and worked very hard. Before he even met me, he knew he wanted better for his and his future family’s lives. Once we were married we went through a lot to keep him here, and almost had to move. And this was all in our first month of marriage. Many people have it much harder than we do and did, but we still had to push forward.

So much happened in the world while you were in my belly that I almost never wanted you to come out. But you had to and I have to raise you to be one of the good ones in the world.

My love, I hope you never have any of the struggles your parents, grandparents and so on have experienced. But with that, you have a certain responsibility. You have a very strong voice to make a difference. And I’m going to help explain to you how:

Like I said, never look down on anyone
You come from such a unique background. Just because you look solely white, does not make you better than anyone. Everyone has just as much a right to a good life as you do, no matter his or her race, religion, appearance, gender, sex. You need to treat everyone fairly and with dignity.

Use your voice
You will have a platform just from the way you look. I don’t want to sugar coat it. People won’t look at you and see a child whose grandparents were broke and were spat on for their background. I hope you’ll stand up to bullies and speak out against injustices. You can start early on by following your heart and not the crowd. You can continue this by using your right to vote when you’re 18 and electing officials who care and not those interested in furthering only themselves. Join organizations that promote change when needed and fight for those who do not have a voice in society.

Recognize your privilege
Don’t see this as a bad thing. It was the luck of the draw that we had you and you got us. You don’t need to be ashamed to be white and I hope you take pride in your education, as no one can take that away from you. Don’t throw all of this away. Always lend a helping hand to those who need it.

Love unconditionally
Two of my favorite quotes are:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
And
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” – Mother Teresa

People may hurt you. You might not agree with every group. You don’t have to. But make sure you always practice love.

My biggest wish is that we won’t even need to have this discussion when you’re older, but I’m not holding my breath. You are going to go on to do great things and I believe you can help the world just by being you.

I love you, and I can’t wait to raise you to be better.

Love,
Your Mama
 

 

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8 thoughts on “A Letter to My Son About His Privilege

  1. Pam Wilson says:

    Please let Baby Boy also know about his great-grandmother’s Irish ancestors who also came to America from a foreign country and had to learn the language. His great-great grandmother grew up above a grocery store in what was called the Irish Channel in New Orleans where her father sold groceries and the kids helped out. Not all the children in this family of 8 graduated high school but she did. Her father drove a horse-drawn wagon to the French Market in New Orleans every morning for fresh fruits and vegetables to sell in the store. Her mother, whose mother came in on the boat to New Orleans form Ireland, did backbreaking housework and cooking for her large family without modern appliances or conveniences.
    Our ancestors came here also from Scotland, Belgium, Germany, England in search of a better life for their children.
    Baby Boy, yours is an American story!!! Be proud.

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    • Yeah of course! We’ll be raising baby boy to know all of his ancestry. This post was just to highlight his minority side and to teach him how to respect all peoples. He certainly is the true American story.

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  2. Deborah Gonzalez says:

    I totally understand the need to have this talk with him. He is so lucky to have a village of support and love so I believe he will be such a sweet boy. White males get this reputation for a reason and I don’t know when this will end if ever so teaching him the politics of society will hopefully help him understand the ignorance out there. It is a perspective that only yourself can control for how you want to see the situation. I’ve seen white men and women get promotions on promotions thinking,” oh, it’s because our white manager loves white people.” But in reality they opened their mouths and told them what they wanted, why they deserved it, and showed hard work. Blacks and Mexicans can always make it a race thing if they want to while white people always have to keep proving that they deserve what they have. It’s a cycle that I hope Evelyn and Emmett will not have to deal with fifteen years from now. We can only pray! Marie and Emmett I love you so much! We are gonna be the coolest MUMS!

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