Rules for My Future Son Should I Have One

It’s Labor Day. I decided to participate in the “For Ferguson and AllsWhere: A Virtual Exhibition” taking place today. Artists of all types are supposed to “unite against police brutality and cultures of violence in an online exhibition.”

Check out the Facebook page. This page is also affiliated with Artists Against Police Brutality/Cultures of Violence, also on Facebook:


Here’s the poem I wrote yesterday (and did some more work on this morning! Shout out to my husband for his suggestions.) There’s so much more I want to say. I feel like this may end up being the first in a series.

Rules for My Future Son Should I Have One

1. Play dead when you see a police officer. They do not like to eat dead prey. Fall down on the ground faster than light. Fall down on the ground in slow motion. Always be prepared to catch a bullet with your teeth.

2. Do not put your hands up. Do not put your hands down. Do not move your hands. Do not hold a wallet in your hands. Do not have brown hands.

3. Do not write rap lyrics; they are a suicide note. Do not have a rap sheet; this is a death warrant.

4. Know that if alcohol, drugs, and/or guns appear in your photos, I have created an app that will cause your phone to self destruct one minute after the photos are taken. These photos will not be used against you in a court of law. These photos will not be used against you in the court of public opinion.

5. Do not wear a hoodie is a body bag is an urn is probable cause. Do not hang your pants below your waist; this is police code for your ass is a moving target.

5a. Wear clean underwear just in case you get into a car accident. If you are involved in an accident, need help, and no one is around, do not go to the nearest home for help. Do not call 911. Please check the small black bag in your glove compartment. In it I have gathered twigs, tinder, and a box of matches. Please send a smoke signal.

6. I can’t breathe. I don’t have a gun. You shot me. I do not want to know your last words because you are not allowed to say last words before I say mine. But I will say I love you every time you leave me. I will whisper I love you in your ear all the nights you sleep in my home so that if I am not the one to cradle you in your final moments, if instead you are cradled by hot asphalt as your body roasts in the sun, you will have left this Earth still hearing echoes of me I love you.

7. If all else fails and you can’t remember the previous rules: lay down on the ground and slide your body against concrete until you shed brown skin. When you were in my belly I stitched an emergency second skin, fair and light, without the weight of blackness. Try on your freedom, baby boy.

© 2014 LaToya Jordan

8 thoughts on “Rules for My Future Son Should I Have One”

  1. Latoya Jordan you have written a magnificent poem. You have shared the heartfelt sentiments of Black mothers, fathers and those with Black male
    love ones. My heart seems to stop beating when thinking of my Black male love ones having to navigate life, instead of just living. I’m learning though difficult to be at peace.

    I pray for your future children’s safety. Unfortunatey, your words are the words that come with being a Black mother. We not forget the lives of
    Black girls and women.

  2. Thank you, LC. As a mom to a little Black girl and a Black woman myself, the lives of our women/girls are always on my mind, too. We have a lot of work to do to make sure our children are safe and healthy.

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