You feel at peace when you know that I am safely tucked in your home.
I feel at peace when I know that you are beside me.
As I write this post, my heart croons the words of this Areatha Franklin song from my favorite movie, Waiting to Exhale. Beloved, sometimes it hurts like hell to love someone else… especially a Black man.
I preach, write, post, and share so much about the redemptive love of Christ and how freeing His love can be. Yet a part of me weeps daily when we are apart. Understand me, I am not trying to keep close tabs on you or check your every move, I just fear for your safety when we are not together.
Those are just some of the Black men (and boys) who began their day as ordinary Black men and ended the day in a body bag. The realities of being Black in America echo loudly in the hearts of the women who love them. And, baby, I love you.
It ain’t easy loving a Black man…
My father is Black. My brothers are Black (one is biracial and the other two are Jamaican Black men). My pastors are Black. Every man that I’ve ever loved is Black. Yet even with all of the beautiful Black men that surround me, I have never processed the weight being Black in America or loving a Black man until the massive cluster-[bleep] that is 2020. I typically do not use or support the use of profanity, but there was simply no other way to describe all that this year has brought to our proverbial doorsteps. We are tired- beyond tired- and this year is showing us no mercy and giving zero concern to our feelings of racism and unrest.
As a Black woman, I have been taught to grin and bear my way through every issue of life. Rape and molestation? Sweep it under the rug. Systematic oppression? Suck it up. Doing more yet earning less? This is the American way. But as 2020 continues to press on and I look into the eyes of this Black man that I love, I feel the worry stirring within me and my heart cries on a daily basis.
Lord, please let him come home tonight.
We don’t live together, but I am at your house often and every day that I am there my heart barely beats until the moment that I hear you open the door to your house. I hear the creak of the screen door and the jolt of the door itself as it opens. Next I hear the slamming of the screen door (that spring really needs to be fixed) and then I inhale deeply before smiling and calling out to you, this wonderful man that I love.
“Hey babe, how was your day?”, I ask with a smile in my voice as anxiety subsides.
“It was good, babe; how was yours?”, you always respond.
To be honest, I often ignore your question and continue on with whatever else I was doing prior to your return home because you are safe now… and nothing else matters. After our greeting, I always stare at you for a bit. You are a handsome man, a bit shorter than me, but handsome nonetheless. Your eyes tell a story that your lips dare not utter and your smile warms my innermost being. My guy, you are one of a kind- attentive, yet respectful of space; sexy, yet humble in appearance. Your laugh is contagious and your heart is vast. You live your life by the thought that “if I have, then you have”, giving so much of yourself to all of those in need. You are my best friend; the first person that I turn to when I need advice or need to vent and the last person that I talk to every night. With you I cry, fuss, vent, and laugh. You are more to me than I ever thought you’d be. And I love you immensely.
Yet you are a target because of your beautiful and rich skin color.
When others see you, they don’t see the man who graduated from VSU; the fine man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc (unless you are wearing your letters… which you do often 🙂 ); the doting and loving uncle; the generous friend; the youth mentor; or any of the many other hats that you wear. No, instead they see a Black man with a beard and not only do they assume the worst, but they also prepare for the worst. They see your skin color and automatically decide that your Black life is not worth as much as theirs and that you couldn’t possibly have someone waiting at home to love on you. To them, you are only your color, not your character, and wholly unworthy of their respect or common decency. And what I love most about you is that you are too pure to often see this world for what it is. God knows, I love that eternal optimism that you possess!
I wish people saw that when they see you. I wish they saw the man who stood in a memorial park, joyfully throwing a young child in the air (and catching him) to distract him from the intense moment that we were having at a burial site. I wish they saw the man who sincerely apologizes when he doesn’t have cash to give to every homeless person on the street that we pass as we walk through Downtown Frederick. I wish they saw the man who repays most kind deeds by firing up the grill and preparing a loving meal for others to enjoy. I wish they saw the man that will give (and has given) his last to aid someone else in need. Baby, I wish they saw the man that I see and know.
But that damn skin color is all they see….
As much as I want you to spend time with your friends and enjoy your life, I get so worried when you travel with them. What if today is the day that some officer or “vigilante” citizen gets trigger happy? What if today is the day that a routine traffic stop goes wrong? What if you, being the good Samaritan that you are, try to break up a fight and the situation is misunderstood and something happens to you? I know, I know, my faith, but what about my heart?! My faith tells me not to fear, to worship versus worry, but the news stories across America remind me to be realistic.
And I promise that I don’t mean to place my anxieties on you, but I just want you to know where my heart is on a daily basis. “Faith, Michelle, not fear. Faith.” I say this mantra to myself so much that it now has a specific cadence in my heart. That cadence mirrors the beat of your heart.
As I write these words, I fight the urge to shed tears. I have never felt about a man the way that I feel about you and that in and of itself is terrifying. The only thing that keeps me sane and dries my forming tears is God. Above all else, you know and love the Lord and you have placed Him as the head of your life. Your faith and fearlessness do not eliminate the ignorance of others, but they do remind me that our God is in control.
Lord knows it ain’t easy, but I am a Black woman, baby, who has committed her life to forever loving a Black man.
I love you…
To read more about the lives tragically and senselessly lost, click here. May the peace that they did not find on earth be forever found in glory.