a note to black boys

jordan edwards was killed by a police officer in texas two days ago. he was 15. innocent. eric garner was strangled by a police officer almost three years ago. mike brown was murdered by a police officer two years ago. tamir rice was gunned down by the police two and a half years ago. he was 14, and brilliant.

you probably knew all of that, because you have to watch your back. i know that with every step you take, you have to protect your neck, and i know that you are tired. i know that checking your words and tone so carefully to avoid death is tiring. i know that fearing for your life every time you put on a hoodie in cold weather is tiring. i know that no matter how small, your mistakes don’t grant you the privilege of being taken into custody alive, like dylann roof.  i know that you know that this is wrong, and i know that you know we’re trying to fix it.  baby boy, we are trying. it is a fight, and we are fighting.

first, i’m sorry. i am sorry that you live in fear because of prejudiced notions of those sworn to protect. i’m sorry that your existence is treated like a crime worthy of capital punishment. i’m sorry that you have to have living down to an exact science to be successful. i’m sorry that you grow and live in a world where #rip(insert black boy’s name) pops up every three weeks. i am sorry.

next, i want you to know that despite those who seem to devalue your life, you are worth everything. black boy, you are magic and melanin. black boy, the resilience of your mother, the fight of your sister, the adaptability of your father – you have it in you. you carry worlds within you. hold fast to the fire in your stomach, and live. live as activism. live because it is not promised. live because you want to. live because terrible people seem to yearn to take the chance from you. live and learn and love and be, because black boy, i don’t know how long you or i have. i don’t know if you’ll go for a walk tomorrow and be killed for walking while black. i don’t know if you will be the next hashtag. i know that jordan edwards should have woken up today. i know that you should tomorrow.

with this in mind, flex your black boy joy. remember your dreams, and chase them with abandon. remember your struggle, and acknowledge it. remember what makes you happy, and do it. live. live. live. put flowers in your beard if you want to. cut your hair how you want to. wear the sneakers that you want to. win three grammys without selling a record if you want to. wear a blue vest and change the world if you want to. create a film that explores racism like no other if you want to. live, because you are worthy. chase, because you can. be, because your life matters.

black lives matter. god help us, they matter. you matter, and i will never stop screaming it. not when i graduate from college, not when i finish law school, not when i run for office — never. i will never stop fighting for our lives to matter. i will never stop.

black boy, you matter. you matter. you matter.

live.

love,
shalom


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