Where I’m from you had to grow up quick.
I remember my innocence being stripped from me early and our mere existence was seen as a threat. Whether it was from being mischievous with the neighborhood crew where we thought being the toughest was what made you a man or what we call REAL, or it was being harassed by the NYPD for being outside past 7pm.
It felt like a target was always on our backs, the world was against you, and being carefree was not in our nature. Frolicking at the park after dark was always a risk — you never knew what kind of situation you would get into.
This reflection brings me to the state of the world today and how our Black and Brown boys are navigating through it. Sadly, not much has changed. When I hear or witness how the media attempts to tell our stories and paint us a certain way, all I can do is laugh in astonishment because they can never understand.
I can’t help but be befuddled when Kyle Rittenhouse, who was carrying a fully loaded AR across state lines was just a “a little boy out there trying to protect his community” while Trayvon Martin, a victim, had his character questioned by the media for smoking marijuana and sending text messages that depicted him “as troubled at school and enamored of a ‘gangsta’ culture.”
These stories are always a quick reminder to me of how I was as in my youth. A kid from Queens just yearning to be accepted. So, I can do nothing but ask myself what if I got caught doing some bullshit (trust me, there were plenty occasions)? Would today look different for me? Or what if I never had the strongest mother in my corner keeping my head on my shoulders?
I knew many who did not have this privilege and some of them did not make it. Unfortunately, boys like us never got second chances because once you’re in the penal system, your chances of re-entering society are slim to none. Shoutout my brothers who overcame the odds — I’m proud of them for it.
Let’s keep it real AmeriKKKa—Black and Brown boys are not held to the same standard as White boys. We don’t get to play outside with toy guns without a cop running up and killing us alas, Tamir Rice. We don’t get the same benefit of the doubt because we’re seen as a threat, but why?
It’s simple: White Supremacy. The system of white supremacy is about power and dominance over other groups in all facets of life, and that system works around the clock to poison our minds. It is why we turn on each other in a minute. It is why it has become a journey for most of us to learn how to love not just ourselves, but our kin.
Gentleness, generosity, and kindness should not be disassociated from our manhood, EVER. As a matter of fact, we should be teaching these qualities to boys growing up today since they are what make great men. On the contrary, aggressiveness, machismo, and chauvinism destroy us. The inability to love and have empathy for our fellow human being is threatening nature.
Part of arriving to a knowledge of self is disrupting this system and the structures that have been put in place for centuries. Self-realization will allow us to build strong communities that raises boys who won’t have tales of a stolen youth.
Maybe then, we will get to be boys.
Be Proactive. Not Reactive.
– Peace be unto you.