I guess you could consider this an open letter to a man who, through being a fan of the person I assumed him to be, I looked at as a role model in many aspects. I am going to try to do my best not to say his name or speak on the day he was taken from us. Honestly, I never got the chance to meet him in person and for all I know, my perception of him as a stand up individual could be totally misguided; although, I don’t believe this to be true, nor is that the purpose of this piece.
Growing up, before the Sandra Bland’s the Trayvon Martin’s, the Mike Brown’s, and the George Floyd’s, there was a deep rooted, justified fear in my mother about raising a “black” son in this so-called land of the free. Now, the reason that I put black in quotations is because it is a color and it is not the color of any skin I’ve seen. It is a legal status, that basically means dead, which is why it is ok for us to be killed in cold blood by those sworn to protect us. Only, we were never meant to be a part of the “us” nor the “we” in the “We the People.” It was actually designed for us to be apart, not a part. This is why there is a fourteenth amendment and what are known as the “black codes,” which were laws put in place to convert our physical shackles into economic ones. These “black codes” are what affirmative action, fair housing, and other programs like these are meant to combat. Like my mother always told me, you have two strikes against you already being “black” and being a male.
T-tops off, wind blowing, locs flowing, Marley playing, herb burning—I was flying. The thing about my family is we weren’t religious, meaning we didn’t subscribe to any dogma. I’m sure this has a lot to do with my mother being the person she has always been. A strong willed woman who was raised in a very religious, country household in the Jim Crow south; Zuni, Virginia to be specific. After living through segregation, integration, and being a so-called “black” wombman (as she often spelled woman), in this “land of our foremothers” (as she often called America), she at some point decided to unsubscribe to the traditions that had been blindly handed down for generations. It was probably some time during her enrollment at one of the local HBCU’s where the seed of curiosity began to sprout into the fully blossomed thirst for research. I mean, dad is smart, but mom is constantly learning in an attempt to find the universal truth that connects all, at least that’s my interpretation of how she tries to define her affinity. The best part is that she also instilled it in me, it’s even rubbed off on dad. For example, since my mom has been attesting to the power of words and etymology, and learning new languages like Hebrew, Arabic, and Kiswahili, dad did his due diligence and informed everyone that in Kiswahili, zuni is the root word for sad. Most people would see this as mere coincidence, however we don’t believe in such a thing. Everything is connected, we call it synchronicity. Now, I’m not saying that my mom had a sad childhood or that Zuni was a sad place. As dad puts it, “you don’t know you’re missing something if don’t first know that it exists.”
“You see, the crazy thing about real love is,” dad randomly lectured on as he always does, “even though there are many ‘definitions’ of the word; philosophers, poets, and artists of all forms have all tried to describe or portray their perspective of what love may be. And that’s the beauty of art! But love is indescribable, and that’s the beauty of love!!”