I am many things. I am a middle child. I am a thinker. I am a gentleman and a man of compassion. I am a lover of music and a passionate fan of Stevie Wonder. I am a coach and a big brother to kids who can tolerate my bland advice. I am an Alpha. A child of God and the son of two righteous black educators who just happen to have a bunch of special letters after their signature block. I am Irene’s favorite grandchild and I always want to be better. To do better. Sounds pretty good to me. I feel like I do the right things with my life and when I don’t I really try to make it right. But with all of these things that I feel good about, there is one thing that has seemed to be a curse to me all my life. The zenith of other folks hate and fear. The thing that I should be most proud of is the same thing that makes people wanna see me dead. And those who do not themselves specifically want to see me dead, do not bat an eye when they see my blood spilled in the street. When they see me mistreated in school or when they see me left abandoned by the world. That one thing….. This wretched blackness…. This black masculinity. This curse of my existence that makes it impossible for the world to see all those other things about me. How am I to walk with my head held high while knowing that the higher I hold it the more fearful and hateful those around me become? How am I to feel confident in the messages of self-respect and leadership in one’s family that I tell encourage young men to aspire to when that very uppity and haughty attitude will get them killed. When I would spend the night with my grandparents house as a small boy my grandfather would make me walk him to the door when he left out and lock the door after he said, “You are the man of the house while I am gone”. I was 8 when he started telling me that. But I was 10 the first time someone called me a nigga to my face. And even though I had never heard that word before I knew it was flattering. Some kids called me that because they were displeased with the way I beat them in a bike race. Had I just been less dominant…or maybe had lighter skin. Had I just not been such an inhuman, ugly and scary BLACK BOY. Maybe those kids would have liked me. And maybe they would have praised me when I out raced them on my bike instead of hated me for it. When I was 15 my science teacher told me that “Sambo” was the only black hero that I should be proud of. “Didn’t you like the way he tamed the monkeys and the lions in the jungle?”, he said. I didn’t know Sambo. My parents and grandparents foolishly spent time telling me to admire Ben Carson and Garret Morgan. What a waste. If I had just been less dignified when I walked into class and pulled out all of my materials to learn about science, then may my teacher would have liked me more.
Trayvon Martin was someone’s son. He was a football player. A big brother. A boyfriend. And potentially either the next bum on the street or the next Fred Hampton. In the short span of another 3 years maybe we would have known.(Fred Hampton was shot down in his home at 20 years old) But his parents did him a disservice. They handcuffed him from squeezing out a few extra years on this Earth. They didn’t teach him to always be aware of the curse of his black manhood. Teach him that the idea of being proud of his ugly skin, mannish energy, and inhuman features was not the way to live. The idea that he could walk unsupervised and un-apologetically is absolutely insane and ludicrous. Why would his parents do that to him. Had he not had his coat tails pulled all through out his life the way I and every other black man has to let him know that there is no comfort or safety for a beast like us? I pray for his soul. And I say shame on all you people who ever told him his life was worth a damn! You have all had a hand in condemning that boy. Had you spent more time telling that boy the reality of who he is not instead of lying about who he could be he may still be alive. But at some point we have got to start telling these boys that the only way to live with this wretched curse is to work within the understanding that NO ONE CARES. At least no one who matters. Because while people quietly shake their heads back and forth about what a shame this is, tomorrow will mark the 25th day that his killer goes without arrest or charge. The proof is in the pudding…….