Sweet, little toes.
ABCs and 123s.
Strong legs run fast.
Off to kindergarten.
Makes new friends wherever he goes.
He loves any and every kind of sport that includes a ball.
(Black boys only play basketball and football.)
He graduates to middle school and embraces strong opinions and loud music.
(Why is that bass so loud? What a bunch of disrespectful kids.)
Hugs, belches, and debates are commonplace.
(He is too boisterous for his own good.)
Eighth grade is a beast that he conquers and is also the year of his first crush.
(My daughter is off-limits to your affections.)
High school is here and it is a busy life with games, events, lessons, and friends. And of course, several missteps that we have to work through.
(Why isn’t that tall boy playing basketball? What do you mean he is on the debate team? What’s he doing there?)
He’s discovering who he is as a person.
(He has a hoodie on and has suspicious intentions.)
It’s a glorious sight to see.
(Stay in your lane. Don’t challenge the status quo.)
He is a handsome masterpiece that I get to watch being chiseled into form.
(He might have more options if he didn’t talk the way he talks.)
It’s an honor to watch him grow his friendships and work so hard to accomplish his goals.
(He’s awfully friendly with all the girls.)
There’s the culmination of four years of homework, meetings, group projects, and games.
(I don’t trust him.)
I beam as he crosses the stage.
(Wow. He’s going to that university? How did he get in?)
He works through college, falls in love and I watch him step into his own.
(I am sure he’s a good guy, but not good enough for my blue-eyed girl.)
He is a joy to those who love him.
(It’s just a funny joke.)
He is strong and I can count on him.
(If I saw him coming towards me at night, of course I would be worried.)
He works so hard at his job.
(He got let go because he didn’t know his place.)
I am a proud mom.
(They are all the same.)
He will always be my baby boy.
You don’t see what I see.
You don’t even try.
You can’t see clearly through racism.
The world sees only the color of his skin and the response to him is fear and brutality.
(He reached into his pocket.)
(He should not have been in that neighborhood.)
(He fought back. If he had just cooperated, it would have gone differently.)
The man who lives his life and makes the world a better place and you discount him, discredit him and act as though he is disposable.
Because he is black.
Your desire is to snuff him out.
Because of the color of his skin.
Your disdain is disgusting and abhorrent against people made in the image of God and yet you still believe you are defending your nation, your values, your neighborhood.
I am emboldened to be strong in spite of your grotesque excuses, jokes, and silence.
See my boy for all that he is.
See his joy, see his worth, see the impact he makes in the world, see his complete humanity.
See past what you think you know, see past the biases that enshroud your heart and mind, unlock the chains that hold you to false narratives.
My boy isn’t safe in this world.
I need you to do this work.
See my boy.
**Written with Siobhan Dunford