the death of black hope
As a Christian father, I teach my children to obey authority, to love* and fear God, to be kind to others, and pursue their purpose with everything they have. As a Black father, I also teach my three kids they are worth less than their white friends. My son must master the official American citizenship test by simultaneously seeing his greatness as a child of God and his lessness as a child of Black parents.
For my part, I am both an accomplice to racism and a realistic parent. Starting around five I tutor him on the notion of his own inferiority. He must not expect the love* he experiences at home to be reflected in how others see him. He must know the potential penalty for Black men who act, think, or live free is death. He must salute the flag, rise for the anthem and recite the lyrics, but never live them. He must learn that even God’s love* is not enough to protect him from God’s people when they see him as God’s mistake.
His black birthright is to be loved* with an asterisk. A permanent, italicized footnote in police training manuals, school policies, job and mortgage applications, church bylaws, medical records, and retail orientation booklets acknowledging his lessness. The stipulations of being black in America not only require his compliance, but also his cooperation in creating conditions where his blackness can either be exploited, ignored, or exterminated.
Asterisks aren’t earned. They are gifted to, by, and from other people of color to protect them in the dark parts of the country. Not by displaying God’s light, rather dimming it so White silence, White comfort, and White insecurity can hibernate in peace. It’s been a long winter.
He will know the official religion of America is not Christianity, it is white supremacy. America has never failed Black people. She is doing exactly what she was designed to do by its forefathers, families, government, schools, businesses, churches, and silence.
White and Black inaction has always cast votes for the status quo. He will learn his voice speaks loudest when he doesn’t.
I am required to teach him about being Black in America before the world treats him like either. I ignore the reality that he is neither Black nor American, he is my son.
Am I cruel to prepare him for hate he has yet to experience?
Or, crazy to think I can change a country that refuses to?
When I say #BlackLivesMatter I’m simply laying claim to liberties I have yet to receive. Since our time here is temporary and life is eternal, it’s an appeal for permission to spend my time, talents and energy on earth as God originally designed. I want my son to die of old age. Even though my forefather was enslaved on Choice Plantation in Sumter, South Carolina, he wasn’t created to be a slave any more than white ancestors were created to be slave owners. My time in this skin shouldn’t be disposable because of its color.
I used to have hope. I prayed for change. These days I pray for protection.
This is love*.