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Letters To My Son: On Being Twice As Good

On being twice as good.

Dear Pookah,

I believe in speaking things into existence. I believe that the mind is a powerful thing and that when we think we can, we actually do.

That’s why every morning on the way to school we say our mantras.

Someone asked me the other day when I was going to teach you THE mantra. The one that black parents have drilled into their children’s heads since Jim Crow. The one that goes something like this:

You have to be twice as good and work twice as hard in this country to be considered equal Click to Tweet

I don’t recall getting that speech from your grandparents growing up. Maybe because I grew up in Chocolate city ( DC) when it was still chocolate. I saw excellence and success everyday and thought it was normal.  But I heard it from peers and teachers and well-meaning family members and professors. I know that it felt and STILL feels like a burden to me. Something I could not possibly live up to everyday.

I’ve decided that it’s not a narrative that you will hear from me. I will not handicap your success before it has even begun. I will not put that unneeded pressure on you.

I will not allow society to dictate how you feel about yourself. How you feel about your success and your contributions to this world. You will be great not because you worked twice as hard , but because YOU decided to. Because YOU decided that what you wanted was worth the hard work.

You already know some of the burdens of being a black boy in America.  And because of that, you will face bias and discrimination and people will underestimate you.

But you are also excellent. Not in spite of, but because you come from excellence. It’s in your genes.

So instead of teaching you that you have to be twice as good to succeed, I want to breed positivity and excellence into your very soul. I want you to want to be twice as good because you WANT to, because YOU want to achieve excellence.

Every morning on the way to school we say:

  • I am smart
  • I can do anything I put my mind to
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
  • My Mama loves me
  • My Daddy loves me
  • I am going to have an awesome day.


I’ve seen the results of these morning mantras all year. In the way that you think, in the things you think you can achieve. You can do ANYTHING and be ANYTHING you decide.

Don’t let anyone tell you any different.




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[…] A system that leaves us as mothers having to have “The Talk”, not about the birds and the bees, but about how they have to be twice as good as the average one of their peers that do not look like them, to b…. […]