It has to happen… that dreaded conversation
Set aside feelings of hysteria and trepidation
Bring the knowledge, history and logic,
Similar to the message, “life ain’t been no crystal stair”
A black mother has to forewarn her son
That he is among the hunted and feared.
That while you adore him, America abhors him.
The details have changed but the danger he faces hasn’t.
In the past it was
That’s master’s woman even if that’s your wife,
If he comes for her, look way.
Stay away… from white women,
Remember what happened to Emmet Till?
Don’t look a white man in the eye, and remember to say sir!
Now we have to be explicit when teaching
What to do when stopped by an officer.
Any swift movements could end in a stream of bullets
Why do you have to wear that hoodie?
Don’t you know that puts you at risk?
Making it clear that they may be violated anyway,
You can’t walk down that block, even if family lives there.
You may be mistaken, handcuffed and taken,
I love the color red too, but you don’t want to be gang affiliated
This conversation is a warning,
This must be articulated delicately,
Otherwise it becomes discouraging
And he feels defeated before the fight bell rings,
We have to be more than mommy; we have to be referees,
Careful not to make a bad call,
Appear optimistic and strong
All the while hoping we never get that call
That he is behind bars, or on the ground
Surrounded by and evidence markers and yellow tape.
It’s equally painful and infuriating…humiliating
For Black fathers to have this talk too,
But I’m speaking from a single mother’s point of view,
Burdened with this particular duty as I look into his brown eyes,
He towers over me, but this teenager is my baby,
From my womb, and one day soon
He will be a man, so I’ll be damned
If I don’t do all I can to save his life,
And that means…
Swallowing the lumps in my throat
Setting aside the inner hysteria and trepidation,
And having this life changing
But absolutely necessary, dreaded conversation.
Brenda's Child is the self-proclaimed diva on a mission to inspire and save lives. Born Latoya Bosworth, she dubbed herself Brenda's Child at the age of 21, in honor of her late mother Brenda Kay Swinton. Brenda's Child continuously spreads her message of H.E.R.S - health, empowerment, resiliency, and self-worth in workshops, as keynote speaker, in print and on stage.