After a working day and a shift in schedule that put me with an unusually anxious child all day, I am finally alone with some thoughts.
Ten years from now, my son will be Tamir’s age just about. I wonder what kind of world it will be. I want my kid to be free to be a kid. Sadly, his light-skinned face and curly hair will be an odd ugly blessing. People will wonder his racial identity for years. He’ll need to identify himself as black if he wants to, I bet… something that he’ll grow to love and/or hate.
I am slowly recognizing that the letter written to my unborn son will be inadequate. No amount of preparation will be enough to protect him. It certainly hasn’t done much other than make me a quick-to-apologize, slow-to-recognize mess. I shrink myself for the benefit of others. I regularly avoid conflict because it doesn’t fit with my idea of who I am, even though for a long time late at night I would dream of battle with scores of enemies. While these were the dreams of a man with high blood pressure, sleep apnea and grinding teeth… they were my dreams (that I still have occasionally.)
When I indulge that part of me that loves the feeling of good, passionate, hard-fought conflict in a way that is healthy and righteous I always feel better. Even when I lose, I win when I listen to myself. What right will I have to deny that feeling to my son? What world am I creating for him when I encourage him to be afraid of being who he is?
For 2016, I’m making myself a promise that I’ll lose what’s left of my apology filled protective mechanism. It no longer serves me and it will certainly not serve my son. We will live in this new world together, unbossed like my shero Shirley Chisholm. I’m going to participate in movements I care about but remember to nourish myself. Maybe he’ll come along with me… if it isn’t past his bedtime.