If you have ever loved a black boy

Dorian, 2005

boy /boi/ n. human male child

I was probably in 7th grade, crushing on one or many, the first time I felt real tears for a black boy.  One I didn’t know and because the evening news reported I never would.  My friend told me we were not connected; that there would be others to meet at the mall, on a college tour, as an intern.  I am more convinced than ever that until we own and absorb the experience of what it means to be a black boy, there are gonna be a whole lot more that will never be met at the mall, on a college tour, as an intern.

If you have ever loved a black boy you know.
If you have ever known a black boy you know.

And if you have never been lucky enough to experience either, let me explain:

He is what we know of too many nameless victims of violence.
And is what we are rarely told: talented, sensitive, curious, and motivated even when opportunity eludes and/or frustrates him.
He is ape and aped; prey and predator; as hard and vulnerable as a tortoise shell.
He is a brother, lover, maybe father, angry, and funny–most of which may go as mis- or unidentified as the source of his demise: Fate.
And what’s more frequently mis- or unidentified is Fate’s most fatal flaw: blindness.
Where he seems pre-selected, he is not; is a number among many like a toe tag, that imminent and ugly evil.

We never want to say goodbye to him.
And almost as rarely do we dare admit that if his surname had not matched ours, or if  we could not claim any kind of knowing, we would be as guilty as Fate and as unlucky as you who have never been lucky enough to know or love a black boy.

We rarely get the chance to be blind, though; to be jealous instead of scared.  We raise them reminding them that they aren’t shit in the eyes of Fate and it’s cruel minions like police, night and sometimes day, Zimmermans, BART cops, and boys who look like them and are fooled by Fate into believing their control over It is of their own hand, is a choice.  (Don’t you, too, be fooled–it is NOT a choice).

Because we know and mostly because we love them, we move about life with an understanding that really has no rhyme or reason; a logic that defies itself.  In other words, we speak these characteristics to them like a playbook or holy text.  Damn that!

Suppose we all knew or loved a black boy?  Suppose we were a black boy? Maybe we could all recognize these identifying marks; that no tattoo nor genetic retention could ever be as telling.   But they should be more telling.

Because if these characteristics were named, we might just make headway to the reckoning I have longed for almost as far back as I began to know and love black boys.  One not tied loosely by strings that collapse and bind temporarily, like the ones in Cat’s Cradle and other string games we learned as children.

Of  “children, ” we have too few.  And if what is happening to black boys is any indication, you’ll know that the title’s merit is steadily collapsing.   It is hard and neccesary work to know and love black boys; it is hard and necessary work to know and love black boys.  It is hard and necessary work.

If you have ever loved a black boy you know.
If you have ever known a black boy you know.

And I know as painfully today as ever.

Peaceful journey Waine.

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