July 3, 2021
Jalen was born on the day that our Haitian ancestors declared independence. That day shifted the reality of the black diaspora—that day changed my life. I thought about the things I would teach him, how strong and how conscious he would be. I would raise him supernaturally so that the perils of this world would not harm him. He would be a greater version of me set to take the world by storm.
As I held him, a purple ball of wrinkles, the insidious feeling of angst crept into my spine. The ancestor Tupac spoke to me from beyond, "My only fear of death is reincarnation." I chased the thought away. His life would be different. His would not have to live a bittersweet existence. His life would be...
Birthing a child had made Erica more beautiful, more powerful. She attracted me beyond what I had become accustomed to. I looked at her and saw myself, I saw everything that I had never seen. We marveled at the wonder that our creator had given us. Jalen was the center of our universe but there had also been born a thing left unspoken. We avoided it like a dark chasm on the surface of our reality. We dared not speak it, we dared not give it life to manifest. Nevertheless, as Jalen grew into his dark body the chasm grew with him, an unspoken affirmation of fragile ground. Erica's hand found mine and squeezed.
Sixteen months later Ebony was born. A girl. A Black girl. She became my kiss. Jalen had, by then, found his way to his feet and with every step gained experience and personality. One day he sat in a chair adjacent our bed, he was a tiny railroad conductor in blue overalls and a red shirt. His eyes trained on Ebony, curious about the brown life that had breached his only-childness. I held Ebony as if to place her in his arms. He adjusted his posture to receive the gift. He looked at her and I wondered what he saw. There was silence between them. Black boy. Black girl. He kissed her knowing that she was...
Two Black babies. How was I to guard against their depreciation in the market of humanity? They would suffer what I had suffered, a unique lonesomeness that was not one of a kind. Names, and absolute consensus that their beauty was tainted because of their darkness.
How would I prepare them to defend themselves from an onslaught of imagery, conditioning and norms that sought to use them as punching bags, footstools, and target practice? The pervasiveness of racism had interrupted happiness arrested joy and shackled it to a a vivid past.
Racism is a dark and viscid substance that adheres to blackness, suffocating as it solidifies.
You have to fight it before it becomes you, before you forget who you are or never know, before it enslaves.
I would never tell them that the world would try to convince them that their beautiful Black gifts were curses. Curses of Ham, Sam and Ram. They would have to know these histories, they would have to know all histories to see past distorted images of Blackness. They were born, not simply to live but to fight. Their existence is an act of defiance, their being Black an act of revolution—that is their birthright. They are reminders of what was and to what we must return. They will bear the burden of pain known by our people. They will share in the glory triumph. They will be opposed and aided, loved and hated. The world will seem lonely. The world will seem scary.
The world is scary.
"Bae?" Erica called out to me.
"Yeah?" I answered.
"Isn't this the sweetest chocolate you've ever seen?"