This is not another rant about how Black brothas are falling short of my justified expectations. This, my friends, is an overdue letter of appreciation.
I was walking through campus the other day when the all too familiar happened. I accidentally made eye contact with an unknown Black male and before I could smile or say “hello,” he looked away failing to acknowledge my existence. I immediately started drafting sharp one-liners that would denounce the entire Black male population at USC. After many conversations with God and my peers, however, I realized that an articulate rant wasn’t going to help anything but my pride. I decided to, instead, honor all of the Black men in my life who are doing right.
To my Black Brothers in Christ,
You display God’s sovereignty. You have defied all odds just by being alive, let alone in Christ. Your resilient existence gives me hope that I, too, can walk successfully with our Creator. I cannot claim to understand all that you endure. I can only imagine that your trials and temptations are as real as mine, if not greater. I have the deepest respect for your commitment to purity and vow to do everything I can to support you in your quest for righteousness. I pray that if it is in God’s will for me to get married, my husband will be a beautiful collective of everything your unit stands for. That may or may not be possible, but it sure is a delightful thought. (Haha) I admit that at times I mistake your kindness for more than it is, but I have made a promise to not act on my questionable feelings and emotions without a direct Word from God. I couldn’t live in peace knowing that I distracted you from your purpose. Outside of God’s love I have never experienced such respect and sincere support from your counterparts. I ask that you be patient with me as I continue to figure out how to manage the genuine friendship that I was once unaccustomed to. As much as I would love to further communicate my appreciation for you, words are incapable of fully capturing my gratitude and reverence. Be encouraged and know that your sacrifices are not in vain. I see you, but above all, God does.
To the Black Men Who Wave,
The innocent smiles and “you look great today”s mean more than you know. Yes, I know that I am unimaginably beautiful and have a sometimes inflated view of my worth, but your acknowledgement reinforces my God-given confidence. Through the simplest nods and small talk, you confirm your commitment to Black unity and I value that. Thank you for not giving up on our people. I want nothing more from you than recognition. I can only pray that your continued interactions with others are as warm as our brief encounters. Keep displaying the strength of our community through your lifestyle. When we look up and see Black brothers and sisters of all ages safely playing together in the streets, I will paint your faces into my personal history book and accredit the victory to all of you.
To the Shy Black Men I’ve Never Met,
For too long I have mistaken your unquenched desire to be understood for disregard. I am deeply sorry. I apologize for not kindly introducing myself and equating your willingness to do the same with your care for community. I am after nothing more than to know your name. I don’t need to know why you don’t attend Black Student Assembly meetings, hang out with Black people, or if you’re from the “hood.” Your presence demands the same respect as my other brothers. Thank you for staying true to who you are in spite of the pressure to conform. I am interested in you whether or not we share interests.
To the Black Men Who Choose Not to See Me,
I am no longer angry. I have converted my rage into the love and grace that God has undeservingly shown me. I have so much to offer and am waiting for you not in desperation, but in hope. I understand your concerns and I long to counter them, but I can only do so with your permission. Give me a chance to simply be your friend and I promise to shatter your prejudices. This unrelenting search for perfection will only leave you disappointed and broken. Meanwhile, your mothers and sisters will be left to pick up the pieces. As much as I would like to refuse to clean up after you, I have become too invested in your well-being to declare such a thing. The plight of my unborn sons is dependent on you. Whether you realize it or not, we are related. The sphere of our connection, however, is in your court.