The first time I held you and looked into your eyes, I saw myself looking back at me only with innocence and optimism that has long ago been stripped from my soul. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, no lengths I wouldn’t go to protect you. Tears filled my eyes the first time I held you. Those around me took them as tears of joy, and make no mistake, the joy I felt at that moment was overwhelming, but sadly the tears also represented guilt, sadness, and fear. Guilt that I had brought you such a bright light into such a dark world. Was my desire to have a child selfish? Was I only thinking about my wants and desires and putting aside how this world will treat you because of the color of your skin. Sadness because I knew all too well how it would, that no matter how brilliant you may be, how much hard work you put in, how good a person you are, the challenges ahead of you will be daunting, challenges others will not have to face but will be there every day because of the color of your skin. Fear that one day my phone will ring or there will be a knock at my door, and someone will say to me the words that no parent should ever hear you have been found shot and killed—killed because of the color of your skin. How many more parents must, on what should be unquestionably one of the happiest days of their lives, look into the eyes of their baby and be consumed with worry that no matter how much they try, they will not be able to shield that baby from the ugliness that they will confront? How many more times must we mourn the loss of another bright light extinguished by hate. How many more times must our communities echo with the sound of grieving parents as they stand over the lifeless body of the child they once held in their arms before we say enough! I look back at your smiling face and the innocence in your eyes and see a bright future with unlimited potential ahead of you that they will try and deny you of. At the moment, I make you a promise that as long as there is my breath in my body, I will protect you and do everything in my power to ensure no one takes that away from you. My blood flows through you, I am responsible for bringing you into this world, and it is my responsibility to protect you from its hatred. Our bond is forever. You are my child, and I will always love you and be there for you.