This is slightly off topic but it was on my heart to share.
There are many black men I hold near and dear to my heart and their presence in my life has made me very much who I am. But there is a group of black boys that have changed my life and this is for them and all of the other black boys like them:
Seven months ago I started my work as a family therapist, working with teenagers on probation. All black. All boys. I can admit this was not my first choice of populations to work with (I preferred younger kids), but this opportunity presented itself and I knew it was right for me; that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with its own set of challenges (i.e. silent treatment, getting arrested, breaking curfew, etc.). Each week I go into the homes of these boys and meet with them and their families. These boys were a few years from 18 and they had admitted to everything from breaking into people’s houses, snatching phones, to just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. By the time they get to me, their record already consist of other charges, with an extensive school discipline record to go along with it. I went to both a middle school and a high school with kids who were on probation, fitted with ankle monitors and I was scared. At 25 years old (depending on what I have on, I could pass for 20), 5’5, and barely bigger than what I weighed in middle school, I was still scared. However, after my first session with my first family, fear became a stranger. They became mine.
My kids are hilarious, they are polite, they are emotional, they are children who made some poor decisions which involved getting caught breaking the law. They are also targets; not because of their probation status, but because of their skin color. My kids were born at risk, their “extracurricular activities” simply put them at a higher risk. At risk of dying by the hands of people who took an oath to protect, who pledged allegiance to a flag for liberty and justice for all. Many of my kids are under the impression it (dying) can’t happen to them, that is until it happens to them. Living is simply a consequence of being born. There is too much death, too much trauma to think about tomorrow. It broke my heart to hear one of my kids discuss feeling indifferent about dying because this world had given him nothing to live for. I never want my kids to use excuses as justification for their actions, but I want my kids to live. I need my kids to live.
I know many people are indifferent about them living because they can’t possibly see them as their own. To them, they are another statistic. They can’t imagine their heart breaking into a million little pieces over the loss of them, but I assure you mine would. I promise my whole world would stop, just as it does when I see the face of any child, now dead in city streets. I can imagine they are my own. My kids are kids, are kids, are kids, and worthy of living. I’m sophisticated enough to know, I experience a different kid than their teachers and peers and victims get but my kids are not monsters. My kids were not born destined for a life on probation, with pending case numbers attached to their names. My families are not broken, they are trying, they are supportive, and often times they are hurting. Don’t wait until my kids are breaking into your homes to notice them. Notice them when they are six and telling you what they want to be when they grow up. My kids don’t need rescuing, they need to be thought of as people worthy of life. They are mine and I need them to live.
Psalms 144:12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: