Go and Hug Your Michael by Maya Angelou
Yesterday I cried watching the Michael Jackson memorial. I cried for a little black boy who felt the world didn’t understand him. I cried for a little black boy who spent his adulthood chasing his childhood. And I thought about all the young black boys out there who may too feel that the world doesn’t understand them—the ones who feel that the world does not understand their baggy jeans, their swagger, their music, their anger, their struggles, their fears or the chip on their shoulder. I worry that my son may too one day will feel lonely in a wide, wide world.
I cried for the young children of all colors who may live their life feeling like a misfit, feeling like no one understands their perspective, or their soul. What a burden to carry.
As a mother, I cried for Katherine Jackson because no mother should ever bury a child. Period. And I think about all the pain, tears and sleepless nights that she must have endured seeing her baby boy in inner pain, seeing him struggle with his self-esteem, and his insecurities and to know he often felt unloved even while the world loved him deeply. How does it feel to think that the unconditional love we give as mothers just isn’t enough to make our children feel whole? I wonder if she still suffers thinking, what more could I have done? Even moms of music legends aren’t immune to mommy guilt, I suppose.
When Rev. Al Sharpton (who always delivers one awesome funeral speech) said to Michael’s children, “Your daddy was not strange … it was strange what your daddy had to deal with,” I thought of all the “strange” things of the world that my children will have to deal with. Better yet, the things I hope they won’t ever have to deal with anymore.
And as a mother raising a young black boy, I feel recommitted and yet a little confused as to how to make sure my son is sure enough within himself to take on the world. Especially a “strange” one. To love himself enough to know that even when the world doesn’t understand you, tries to force you into its mold or treats you unkindly, you are still beautiful, strong and Black. How do I do that?
Today, I am taking back “childhood” as an inalienable right for every brown little one. In a world, that makes children into booty-shaking, mini-adults long before their time, I’m reclaiming the playful, innocent, run-around-outside, childhood as the key ingredient in raising confident adults. Second, I will not rest until my little black boy, MY Michael, knows that his broad nose is beautiful, his chocolately brown skin is beautiful, and his thick hair is beautiful.
And nothing or no one can ever take that away from him. “Now ain’t we bad? And ain’t we black? And ain’t we fine?—Maya Angelou