bLaCk BoYz, and lovers of such…
Here lie our bodies, our black bodies.
No pulse…no breath…no thought.
You’d rather him dead than alive and his soul means nothing as his body breaks beneath the weight of your own.
This life is one you gave to him and chose for him, though it seems like your goal was in vain.
You make excuses to defund, devalue, and disrespect his community and do anything to keep us away.
You curated an educational experience that favors affluent white males, and told black men they were not intelligent enough to prevail.
It is murder in the streets and the pipeline schooling taking us nowhere.
But you claim that you care, that you see us, see him, and somehow see me?
Yet, I’m fighting you every day.
Because your system deprived us of our fathers’ love, left our mothers to fend on their own, and made our brothers a pawn in your game.
You normalized white fragility and spoon-fed us just enough to keep us at bay. So we waded…
Our cries got softer, more distant, and quiet…then I watched as your greed only grew.
See…you are the system, and this he is my father, my brother, an “other.”
Did you see the rain last night? Did the hail shatter your window? Is this storm something you’ve endured too?
Or is this life I lead truly unrecognizable to you?
You know I thought when it rained, the damage was felt everywhere…or even just in surrounding areas.
One neighbor goes down and the world would bend to bring him back up, because that’s just what neighbors do.
But this rain is coming fast and I’ll soon lose everything I own and my home is no matter to you.
My buckets are filling up, you’ve since raised the price of aid to an amount I can’t pay, and now suddenly it is my fault it rained.
So I sit in this water, it is making me stronger, yet you hope that I’ll soon wash away.
You say “all homes matter’ and ‘your damage is no more important than mine!”
Wow, how could I be so rude?
But I sit here in puddles, while your damage is subtle because you are on top of a hill.
And your hill has four strong walls, three more stories than mine, and your roof sir, it touches the stars.
And you’ll look down on us, thinking shame couldn’t be
If only they’d work just as hard
Now our dads are afraid, as they dwell on this plight…their families are washing away.
He could cry if he wanted, let it out and release, but you’ve stolen his tears today too.
So he won’t cry, there lie new emotions he won’t touch, and he will no longer turn to a safe space.
He has accepted his fate, he’ll no longer wait, and I’ve lost love from a man who can’t feel.
See System, it was not enough for you to simply oppress, you also fed this world an idea.
One so polarizing that I often fear it will remain forever.
p.s. Let’s talk about masculinity.
Once I believed in love, then one day I forgot why.
So desperately I wanted to remember, butterflies and magic. Like the fairytales I grew up reading about.
But these stories–the ones about romance, white picket fences, falling in love, and living happily ever after…
They all told a tale of how a damsel in distress would be saved by the bravery of man.
He would swoop in with his muscles, strength, and dominance and ensure the girl was safe.
So little boys looking on, learned how to get the girl, and he’d do so by saving the day.
However, those stories were not written for little boys and girls like me…that kind of love in that kind of story is privileged.
And I will never know a privileged love because I was born a black woman, a black daughter, and a black sister…
So I ask now, do you know fear?
The type that rips open your heart as your brother tells you he won’t run with you anymore because he might run into someone–or something that may take it upon themselves to end his life.
But he’s supposed to be my protection, right? He’s supposed to keep me safe, right? Be a man?
That’s what the stories taught me,
As boys grow, we tell them to be strong men. He will be the head of the household.
We gather around all the boys and watch as they play basketball, football, and things of the sort.
It is asking the boys in the class to carry the stack of chairs to the storage room.
Associating pink colors and shades of sadness with a weakness only women can hold–Chairs. Those must be the chairs girls pick up.
It is, “don’t cry” and “do boys do that?”
It is masculinity. It is security.
Or it isn’t.
Because what about society forcing a standard on little boys, in view of little girls, shaping their minds and building their perspective on what is right and wrong–
How is that safe?
I didn’t need to pick up the chairs to prove that I was just as strong, and he didn’t need to feel the pressure to do so because the world said he should.
When we return home, we tell our little girls that it’s ok to feel sad about her day, yet throw shame on the boys for those same feelings.
But even worse, the brothers I know and the sister I am came home from a society that does everything it can to ostracize our existence. But my trauma was met with comfort, while he was met with a helmet and gloves he never cared to put on.
While I could continue on and directly make this a piece on being a woman/man of color in America, I won’t for just a second. I’ll instead do exactly what the world does, and I’ll try my best not to make it about race.
Maybe then you’ll see us both.
I believe there are systems. Functions within our society that “allow” people to feel secure in whatever is easiest.
Boys get to be masculine. Girls situate themselves as that alternative. Women marry Men. All kids go to college.
And I don’t know, I guess that’s life for some people.
But I watched as a few of my friends grew to hate sports. Men that simply didn’t take a liking because it’s just not what they wanted to do.
So these same boys go home to their families and play something else instead.
But of course, my peers would ask me, “Is he gay, you know that friend of yours?”
I see the mold, we all do. The big tall guy set on “traditional” values is what we equate to true manliness.
You wear pink, you are questioned.
All your friends are female, you are questioned.
You got what pierced?! –questioned.
You care too much about your appearance, mmmm questioned.
You like alternative music, you’re questioned.
You like alternative clothing, you’re questioned.
You don’t want to play a sport, like at all…questioned.
And the saddest part is, the people throwing around these questions are close to him.
You see his mom asked him this, or his dad, friends, grandma, and everyone else around him.
Then the worse thing happens, he begins to question himself and suppress the desires that generated those questions, to begin with.
So there blooms hyper-masculinity.
I don’t extend any blame. I don’t honestly think biases like those are entirely subject to blame anyways. Can I get mad at someone for thinking the young man who’d prefer to dress up than play ball is less of a man…if that’s exactly what we allowed them to think for so long?
I think no, you may disagree. But to me, there is just more value in using that moment to teach, not to berate.
My question though, is what exactly do we gain by trying to pin down someone’s sexuality, or even by just trying to confirm their level of masculinity?
Truthfully, we’ll never all look alike.
But it’d be naive to ignore the kind of biases that exist within our community and the ways in which we reinforce such by turning a blind eye.
So then I pose: how are we building the expectations for how “men” and “women” are supposed to look?
It is not necessarily a conversation about an individual’s sexual orientation, because that is ultimately none of our business. My point here is on the ways this focus on masculinity has become toxic. We have created the idea that there are some things more acceptable for a given gender and I’m not sure why it is still so important.
In generating the image of a man, we’ve also suppressed their emotions by telling them they need to be stronger.
Thus, we’ve created beings who become so immune to their emotions that they soon may not have any left at all.
This decision to decide how men should act, what they should wear, and what they should do, is absurd–honestly, it’s boring.
I don’t want my brother to feel like he is any less of a man because he’d rather paint and dye his hair pink.
I don’t want to have to continue to validate my friends’ masculinity because they just don’t want to throw balls around.
I don’t want my (future) husband to one day be so afraid to feel that he turns away from me instead.
We’ve created fear and taught it to every boy in America, then told him he’s less of a man for expressing the emotions that are associated with fear.
Now the race thing, because you knew I’d circle back–
I don’t have to tell you that the world has tried to suppress black boys forever, it happens all the time.
Neighborhood watch shootings, police brutality, false rape allegations…
So what then, are we adding?
Because despite all this attention the world so tirelessly gives us, at some point we have to take care of eachother…and mean it.
If we make black boys fear being themselves
And the world makes them fear running in their neighborhoods
Are we not killing them too?
Because it’s not about sports and who likes them or who doesn’t. It’s about the lack of love–the love we lose when we try too hard to create the version of a black man we feel will survive longer.
The truth is, if the world is already going to hate him at least they can hate the parts of him that are real, and valid, and valuable.
Black women need protection. Black men need protection. No one group’s pain should outweigh the status of the other.
We were put here, together, to face these challenges in unity. But with that, we must understand that the scrutiny we all face may look different but is still suffocating in the same manner.
And the only people around to help, to truly help in a way that is more than skin deep…
So yes, like that fairytale story I read growing up I am in distress and my life needs protecting. But my brother does too. So when he’s down and I’m up, I’ll be there to support. The responsibility is no longer resting alone on his shoulders.
That weight we can bear together.