On July 15th 2015, author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates published his now-famous book “Between The World & Me”. An intimate and open letter to his son about navigating life as a black man in America. In the summer of 2018, five years after the start of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement I read it and wrote this poem. As I share these words today, my heart remains heavy. I am tired and disappointed that these words ring true more now than the day I wrote them. That people who look like me do not have safe spaces. That our bodies are still criminalized. That we can’t breathe, jog, be in our homes, go to the store… that the world we live in does not want us here. That it is difficult to simply exist. This is for our boys, our daughters, mothers, sisters and friends. This for us, all.  

“ To Our Boys” 

Lyrical legacies I leave you,

though I still can’t perceive you

not quite yet my sweet boy, 

your brown flesh not yet fully formed,

nor your feet ready to walk the many miles ahead 

nor your eyes which peer through the now,

the chaos and cacophony of crap we call living in 2018, 2020-

the year 2000 was not the end,

neither is now,  

they will try to imprison your mind like vipers in heat


Play to the beat of your own drum,

the unsung hero,

the man with the plan,

young mitis, minus the weary creeping eyes


Martin at his most bold

Tutankhamun incarnate, 

no need to name your legacy,

it began before birth and continues after conception and it goes on and on and on,


Prepare ye the way for here cometh greatness,

though I walk through the valley of the shadow o’ death, 

I’ll fear no evil 

No evil, I fear no evil 

No friend,

foe or fake 


I fear no evil 

A figment of my mind? 

The reality of life as a black body…


I fear no evil 

No ill will, of trigger happy fingers spread as a lady with her arms welcoming

no more, 

a dream lost and the mad hatter returns,

he’s lost his hat, traded it for flaming locs of foolishness, and –

false prophecy, 


Beware of false prophets,

and men who may call themselves gods,

who build mountains out of brick and mortar and make molehills of bones and blood

Seek first the eternal, 

exist in the in-between, 

but be not of our fallen world, 

I wish more for you, My love.  

But for now, I’ll protect you, 

leave you in the recesses of my mind…

where you won’t move uneasy, 

in sorrow,

Or look in despair, 

but only wonder at your silken bones,

at your beautiful brown body in the sea of memory,

and dream of bright summer mornings in baked earth. 


Sleep now my sweet, 

Hello old friend.  

*Please note this work has been edited for clarity and tone, and the original title “To My Son” has been changed per the poet’s request.


Further Resources, Courtesy of the Queen’s Black Academic Society: 


HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: “Ceci n’est pas une cible/ This is not a target” (2020) by Aichoucha Haidara. Aichoucha Haidara is a third-year student at OCAD in Material Art and Design (MAAD). To see more of Aichoucha’s art please view her art instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/aichoucha.art/ or @aichoucha.art

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