Written by new CocoaMamas contributor Tracy B. Welcome to CocoaMamas Tracy!
I am blessed in that I am surrounded by beautiful Black men. These include (but are not limited to) an older brother, younger brother, husband, and two perfect boys who love their mommy dearly.
When I look at them, I see strength, intelligence, perseverance, purpose, promise and my reasons for living. But somehow, in the midst of all of the positivity and goodness I see in them and feel from them, it saddens me to know that the world doesn’t see the same thing.
For my older brother and I, life has been challenging. Our father was killed when we were very young – and while it has certainly had a profound impact on me, I can scarcely imagine what it has been like for my brother, his namesake. I have watched him grow into an inspiring young man who continues to overcome adversity and defy odds daily. He is a father, a husband, a brother and a mentor and I don’t know who I’d be without him.
My younger brother is a gift from God. He was born when I was 12 years old and has been a joy to our family from the start. Young, smart and saved, he is also an anomaly. A college graduate with a promising future, he is one of those young black men we don’t normally hear about. He loves God and his family and the world is a better place with him in it.
Because I am surrounded by strong men who each love me in their own special and beautiful way, I feel extremely blessed. I cannot imagine how anyone who would encounter any of these men would see anything but smart, loving and caring individuals – most of whom would give their last to help someone in need.
I never really thought much about what it was like to grow up as a Black male in America. How could I possibly know what life was like on that side of the spectrum? Being a Black girl, growing into a Black woman – that’s what I know and it is an experience that continues to provide lessons and opportunities for understanding. Becoming a mother was one of the most powerful and scary things I have ever endured. And as I watch my beautiful young boys grow, I am afraid for them.
It is no secret that Black men are not viewed positively in this world. We could blame television, rap music, or any number of disparate images – but that doesn’t mean a thing. Truth is, when my brothers, my husband, my sons walk out the door, they are seen as criminals, thugs … threats.
I have seen women clutch their bags as my husband passes by because to them he’s a scary, big Black man who’s surely going to rob them. White people have scowled at and scolded my playing toddlers with such hate and disdain in their voices and faces that I wanted to hide my babies away. People looked and instantly judged my younger brother in his locks and baggy pants, assuming that he was just an everyday thug menace to be monitored. All the while they remain true to who they are and keep proving the world wrong, but I still worry for them.
I know that they have to experience life – for better or for worse – as who they are. It is beyond our collective understanding why Black people have been burdened with being hated, used and abused. This is not a diatribe about race relations – or at least that was not my intention when writing it. This is a writing to express how much I wish the world would change. I wish I could just love my Black men freely, without fearing that they will be taken away or hurt. I wish I could raise my precious sons and send them out into the world without worrying whether they will encounter racism in school, on the playground, or anywhere – because it is painful and they don’t deserve to have to endure it.
Somehow I hope that they will be able to fly above all of the hate and pain and disappointment in the world. Just as they all are blessings to me, I hope that they will be able to find peace and prove wrong all of the stereotypes that have been passed down from generation to generation. I pray that when they look in the mirror each day they see what I see. May they see their beauty so clearly that it is reflected off of them so brightly that anyone who encounters them can’t help but stand amazed – by their character, their commitment to greatness and caring for their families and themselves.
May my brothers, my husband and my perfect, precious sons know in the depths of their souls that they are loved, that I am proud and that God made them all for a divine purpose. And it is a blessing to be Black. It is a grand responsibility to be a Black man and I am here to help them be the best that they can be – thankfully blessed to also be a blessing.