This morning I woke up.
That’s a statement within itself, especially if you don’t know if the day you’re facing will be your very last day. Especially as a black man.
I tried to do the Christian thing this morning. I really did. Put on a worship song, got down on my knees, listening to the lyrics about the promises of God and pray to Him about what’s going on in this disgusting world. But for some reason that formula didn’t work today. The music was more of a distraction, something to hide behind. So instead, I turned it off and turned my emotions up. I started listing off different names of my family members, my friends, my brothers. All black men. Asking God to just continue to cover them. I know He is, it’s just hard trusting at times because at any moment we could be next. I started sharing with God every emotion that I was feeling. Conflicted as a believer, and trying to rest in what the Word says, instead of holding fast to the fears of “I’m protected but what if”, “God I know who you are but what if”. Yeah I know I just preached on doubt and having the belief of a child literally on this past Sunday, but let’s talk about when the reality of what we face seems louder right now. Extremely loud, and this time I can’t seem to find the volume button. Especially as a black man.
I think what really hit me this morning was thinking about my son, Bryce. He is the most pure, the most joyful, loving individual that I know. A smile and laugh that literally lights up any room.
He never meets a stranger, and he sees everyone as nice no matter what they look like. Right now all he knows is the things a child should know, snack time, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, play time with Mommy & Daddy and naps. But what happens when the world we live in isn’t a dream at all, what happens when I have to sit down with him and have the new talk not just about sex, but by telling him about the nightmare of the reality of being a man in America. Especially as a black man.
"But what happens when the world we live in isn’t a dream at all, what happens when I have to sit down with him and have the new talk not just about sex, but by telling him about the nightmare of the reality of being a man in America. Especially as a black man."
I’ll have to navigate how to tell my son what to do in a situation where you’re driving to work in a town you’re not familiar with, but you get stopped by the police for driving the speed limit in broad daylight, not to get nervous or raise your voice when they begin to question you about why you’re here, or if you have taken any medication while they’re looking in your back seat (keep your windows up) because they’re only trying to trip you up, oh and to breathe when you look in your mirror because you see that they called for backup. Oh be sure to keep your wife on the phone just in case... And then when you get to work and explain to your boss why you were late, all they say is oh wow that’s unfortunate, sorry that happened. NO YOU”RE NOT!!!! Because as a white man you don’t ever have that problem and you will NEVER know what it means to be black (Yeah this really happened to me, 2018)
I’ll have to tell him the stories of how I was laughed at in class during history lessons in elementary school when the teacher said black people were thought of as less than because of their skin, and didn’t make as much money. I’ll have to inform him that your skin isn’t a curse, that you don’t have to pretend to be any other race, especially white in order to be who God made you to be. You don’t have to wear “white” clothes to fit in, talk like white people, that it’s okay to be you. A black boy. That you don’t have to hide behind basketball, or sports. That you can be just as dope as an artist, a doctor, lawyer, or anything that you want to be in this world. I’ll also remind him to not let how you pronounce your words make you feel any less of a person, to not be intimated to open your mouth. Especially as a black man.
I’ll have to navigate him through the years of fighting through the politics from high school to corporate America, and helping him understand that “the man” won’t be an excuse for us to thrive after I explain the principle of who “the man” is.
I’ll have to explain to him to that it’s okay to speak up for yourself, even if it’s to an adult, especially if you ever have an adult stare you in your face and say you don’t look like college material because you’re black and working a part time job at a grocery store in the summer time trying to make some extra money to help pay for your car.
I’ll have to explain to my son as he grows up why he can’t play with toy guns, to not play cops and robbers with his friends, I’ll have to explain to him why you only play fight and wrestle with Daddy because if you do it outside of the house then someone might think you’re serious.
I’ll have to explain that it’s okay to sort through what you believe, that God isn’t mad at black people, that He isn’t punishing us but that He still cares for us. I’ll explain who Jesus really is, that He’s not this white Jesus that these publishers for children’s books and producers for movies try to brainwash us with at a young age, that He’s not a Jesus that is a Republican or Democrat who goes with our political preference. NO! I’ll let Him know who Jesus really is and I’ll teach him the story of how Jesus allowed a black man (Simon of Cyrene) to help Him carry his cross to Calvary.
So this morning as thought after thought flooded my mind, the tears I’ve been holding in broke the dam of my eyelids. I’ve been holding them too long. Because I didn’t think about this when becoming a parent, it’s not something I asked for, it was something that was given to me, expressed shipped, first class mail right to my front door steps. And no matter how much I try to ignore it by walking past it, stepping over it, it’s always going to be there. And as the tears streamed down my black face this morning, I had to quickly wipe them away because my wife called me and I didn't want her to think there was anything wrong, and she needed me to help her new client lift some furniture into the garage for a new project she's about to work on. I had to hide my tears to put on a mask as if I wasn’t just breaking down about my son.
Nope, not any longer. So excuse me as I take off this mask, burn it and navigate through my emotions. Excuse me as I try to unpack the thoughts in my mind, as a human being, as a believer, as a black man. Not just for myself, but for those emotions that my son has yet to feel. I gave Bryce the middle name Xander, which means defender of men. But right now it’s my responsibility to defend him, because the ones we're supposed to depend on to defend us are too busy killing us. So, I’ll try my very best to protect him as long as I can, but one day I know he’ll have to face the reality of life. Especially as a black man.