Editor’s note: We received this submission from a Latina mom who is expecting. She asked us to not use her name.
To My Unborn Latino Child,
You might still be in my womb, I can’t help to think about what you will be like and what we will be like as your parents. Will you be an introvert like your father or an extrovert like your mother? Will you be cautious like your father or will be free natured like your mother? Will you prefer pozole like your father or tacos like your mother? The only thing I do know is this: you will be our Latino child.
With this label, there is so much you will face in the world that your father and I will not be able to control. We know that bringing you into this world is like sending you out on a raft in a stormy ocean. The best thing that we can do is to ensure that raft is as sturdy as possible, and we will try to equip you with the information and knowledge for you to navigate that raft.
We are good people. We work hard. We take care of our families of origins. We know where we come from and will never forget it. We are part of a long line of Latinos who always had to fight to survive in this country. We both got our educations in spite of the odds. We have a comfortable home in a safe diverse neighborhood where we will raise you. We will give you everything that will allow you to develop your character to be part of this world.
But, we also know that the stormy world out there will not you treat you as your parents see you, because you are a child of color. Last week, three black men were killed at the hands of police. Their only crime: they were black. Over the last month, LGBT Latinos were killed in a terrorist attack. You were conceived and will be birthed at a time in which a presidential candidate for the GOP called your Mexican community rapists and drug dealers. Yes, many Americans voted for him and made him the candidate. You will be a child a color within a society in which whites are treated as humans and people of color of our treated as subhuman.
I think about your relatives in your father’s and mother’s families who have been harassed by the police for accusations of being criminals. Some of whom have ended up in jail and prison. They were raised by good people who had the bad luck to be living in the wrong zip code with the wrong skin color and with wrong accent. This is your part of your heritage, Baby.
Even here in our middle class surroundings which will be your home, I watch the Latino and black pre-teens walking in front of our home who have been stopped by police and questioned while the white preteens are left alone. Many will assume that you are a criminal—or a potential criminal. You will be a target for gang recruitment. You will be stereotyped as an “illegal” or “foreign” or an “anchor baby.”
Yes, the stormy ocean that I am writing about as you grow in mi panza seems so bleak and racist. That’s the truth, Kid. However, let me remind you that there are many people who are fighting for us and your future. This weekend, I marched my pregnant, tired butt with the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrators. I did so for black and brown lives but, more so, for you. We are fighting for police reform. This police reform may not happen now, but it is planting the seeds to make the future world more equitable and humane. That future will be your life.
As your Latino father and I raise you, we know that teaching you how to interact with police will be part of your growing-up process. We will have to explain to you the realities of American race relations. You will learn about the real history of this country from us: how black people were enslaved, how Native Americans were exterminated and how refugee Latinos were deported to countries ready to kill them. We are not going to pretend that race or racism does not exist. BUT, we also have enough hope in ourselves and the demonstrators of #BlackLivesMatter. We are all fighting for a better future society for your life, because you as a child of color will matter.