An Open Letter to My Son: Why They Called You a N*%^*r

Dear Son,


Two weeks ago, we welcomed your first au pair to the United States to come help take care of you while Mommy and Daddy work.  She is well educated, kind and warm hearted.

Unfortunately, she spent only 24 hours here in the “Land of the Free” before someone used this freedom to call her a “chink.” The conversation that followed was heartbreaking.  She didn’t know what the word meant, but knew that it was bad.  I had to call your father over to help me with the conversation, because I was overwhelmed emotionally… and very unprepared.  It hurt my heart to have to explain to this sweet young girl what that word meant and try to explain why someone would want to use such a hurtful word to a complete stranger.

As the conversation went on, however, my heart sank even more…because I realized…I would have to have this conversation again…with you.

I don’t know how old you will be.  I don’t know who will say this to you.  I don’t know where or how it will happen.  But, despite my prayers to the contrary, I know it will happen.  And, here is what I will say to your likely tear-stained face and broken heart.

Mommies, daddies, and families come in all shapes and sizes.  No two families are the same, and that is what is so cool about meeting people and making new friends.  But, you know how you get scared by the lightening and thunder outside?  Well, some people get scared by people that look or speak differently than themselves. And sometimes when people get scared, they use hurtful words and do mean things instead of just saying, “I’m scared.”  The word that was used today is a hateful, hurtful and disrespectful word.  It was used by a person who unfortunately doesn’t understand that the differences in people should be enjoyed and celebrated, not feared and disrespected.

We are never able to control other people, but we are always in control of what we say, what we do, and how we react to bad things that happen. Regardless of what is said to you, or done to you, stay confident in who you are.  You are a clever, funny, and joyful child who happens to be the son of a Caucasian mother and African-American father who love each other immensely.

Don’t ever lower yourself to use hateful or disrespectful words in response.  Yes, there is freedom of speech in America, but there are intelligent ways to use this freedom that is denied to so many people, and there are unintelligent ways.  Don’t be unintelligent.  Don’t feed the fire, and move on.  Only YOU can decide how you let people make you feel, and don’t give unintelligent people the power to make you feel anything but smart by comparison.

I’m so sorry that this happened to you, son.  I wish I could say that this will never happen again, but I can’t promise you that.  What I can promise you is that even though you are feared by a few, you are loved by many.


With all my heart,


3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Son: Why They Called You a N*%^*r

  1. Beautifully put and lovely letter. As an ethnic minority myself, I wished my mother had said all these to me when I went home crying after being called names at school. I just wanted to be told that I was loved and people didn’t hate me because I was different.

  2. I wasn’t around when my beautiful daughter had this happen to her. Some kid yelled it out the school bus window when she was a kindergartener, dropped off at her grandmother’s house after school. My mother heard it and I went to the school the next day to see the superintendent. I wasn’t at school when another young boy who was holding the door open at recess spit on her. She kept it inside for many years and told me about it long after she was out of school. I was shocked that she kept it inside all of those years. No one else told me. No one else stood up for her.
    We love and cherish her and she knows it, but these things hurt still. The boy who spit on her is now in prison, again. I don’t know about the other.
    We lived, and I still do, in a very small town where people know one another. She never had a boyfriend while she lived here. Two of the high school teachers talked a younger boy into asking her to her junior prom, on the morning of the prom. Her two girlfriends and I got her ready and he met her at the prom. It was bittersweet.
    Many times I wondered if I did the right thing by giving birth to her and bringing all of this upon her, but I knew the alternative. An abortion was something I could never have lived with. I loved her from the moment I saw her and will until my last dying breath. She is beautiful, intelligent, kind, and funny. She has grown into a wonderful person despite the things others have said or done to her.
    She is 33 years old now and lives far away from this small town, in a big city. She is single still. Just her and her dog Garver. I worry about her and still want to protect her from the hurt in the world, but I can’t. I instilled in her, values and morals. I did the best that I could as a single mom. What God gave me I took and am proud of who she is and the person she has become. I wish the world could see her inside instead of judging her by her outside.

  3. Well said!

    Prejudice comes from the weirdest places sometimes.
    I’m a South-African living in Holland. My sisters at some point had a boy chasing after them shouting ‘AIDS-infested Africans’ after them. For the record: said boy was brown-skinned, my sisters are white Africans who happened to come out more blonde and blue-eyed than the (stereotype) Dutch themselves.
    One of the most ironical things was being labelled a ‘racist’ by people, based on the colour of my skin and my nationality. (This happened to me in school. I simply turned around and continued chatting to my friends -a group with 5 different nationalities and 4 different ‘races’).

    Imagine how dull life would be if we all were alike.

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