I’m a Storyteller but this is Non-Fiction

This is not a fairy or fable.  This isn’t one of my historical reference blogs or a post to honor someone.  This is non-fiction.  This blog is about living the facts of raising two young black men.  My nephews, who are now the ages of 20 and 16.  In particular the oldest who stands a little over 6’1″ with skin stained to the hue of blackberries.

This is about his dubious eyes when I tried to explain I needed to have a conversation about his skin tone and it had nothing to do with science or medicine.  No, it wasn’t me fussing because he forgot to put lotion on his elbows again.  It was about politics and its’ rapacious attachment to control.  The greed of it all and the pretentious stare down the broad of your nose.  The side of politics that tries to keep African Americans comfortably controlled to avoid another time span of collective awareness or us developing a community of critical thinkers.  This conversation was to show him how living outside of himself will keep him hungry.  How, breathing below his intuition will have him comfortable with eating from a blood stained hand that has slapped him repeatedly and then make him feel actuated to say, ‘thank you.’  “I know you’d rather be downstairs playing video games, but I need you to hear me out…’

He is not from my body but from my heart.  He is from my desires of him never learning to believe his doubts.  Every parents dream right?  I keep safe in my heart the time he was being teased by his cousins about his name, Tajh Jelani, ‘Almighty Prince/Crown.’  I told him that with a name like that it was easier for God to find him.  Surprisingly enough, that answer was satisfying.  Or, it was enough to have him think about it.  A few years later, his younger brother, Tariq Jamal, ‘Beautiful Morning Star’, asked me why I picked that name for him.  Before I could answer, Tajh responded, “because God can find you quicker.”  Tariq seemed to be soothed just as his brother had a few years earlier.  And these are the stories of apples and cinnamon or trains and trucks I want to relate to my beloved nephews.  But the fact is, even though they are protected by prayer on the sides and in back of them, something is waiting in front.  And it is well oiled and camafloughed as justice.  It has several names.  Too many to name here!  It is vile and fueled by emotion so I won’t give it a name to place it in vibration.  But it is there to teach him about his place in society.  And its’ teachings are wrong so ‘I need a few more minutes…’


‘You are feared.  The fear is you will one day re-member your brilliance.  You will re-member that fear does not exist in an abundant soul such as yours.  You are second chance and from a lineage of dare and possibility.  Your body is the prototype.  Your skin is blessed.  And the propaganda is grand enough to distract you to focus only on your physical so you dare not think about thinking.  You are the tallest of your friends and the darkest of your friends and you will be sought first.  You can be in the back seat with a seat belt on and a bible in your lap.  Simply because of the way you look you will be the first to get down on the ground.  And this will be confusing and offend you.  You will be served your first taste of injustice.  I need you to stay calm.  I need you to give your winning face.  You know the face you give when you are about to yell, “Uno!”  We have no idea you are getting ready to win and you hide your emotion, this is called a poker face.  I need you to give it.  I need you to remember the officers name and what they are stopping you for.  I need you to come home.  I need you to believe me right now.  This incident may be a reality for you one day.  I need you to call me before you get in the car with a friend that has been drinking or smoking.  Even if you are high or drunk yourself.  This isn’t one of my stories.  This talk may be as important if not equally important as the sex talk we had a couple of years ago.  I hope you are listening.’

And I’m sure this was “the talk” given to:

Sean Bell*Eric Garner*your cousin*Trayvon Martin*Oscar Grant*your uncle*Michael Brown*Jordan Davis*your brother*Renisha McBride*your aunt*……..

Have you had “the talk” with your black child today?




11 thoughts on “I’m a Storyteller but this is Non-Fiction”

  1. This is so beautifully written, I’m kind of in shock right now. Not so much that I can’t say thank you, first for writing it, and secondly for sharing it. The diamonds along the pathway we find sometimes come from the most unlikely places. I say that only to mean I did not expect to find your powerful, eloquent words this morning as I prepare to return to word on my first novel. A novel I hope my nieces and nephews, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, ancestors- can find themselves in and feel proud- feel represented.

    As a dark-skinned black man who has passed through more than a few of his own trials ‘centered on hue’ (nothing police related thankfully), I commend you for your courage, faith, and support for those boys/young men. Something tells me you have planted wondrous seeds of strength, humility and courage in them with your words. Your words will come to their aid many times in their lives and they will thank you and be thankful for you.

    I can’t help feeling we are in the midst of something extraordinary making it’s way to the surface of America’s collective consciousness. I do not believe this ‘thing’, whatever form it will and is taking, has ever been seen before. I believe it is a newness waiting its chance to enlighten us all. I want to be here for that.

    Your words this morning make me believe in a brighter day.

    Thank you.

    K’lee L.

  2. I really like this……it speaks to the heart of the matter. It simply speaks to MY heart. We need more parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, godparents, church members…..PEOPLE to plainly talk to their young men about the world that we live in. You are a great inspiration Aunt Momma. Your nieces and nephews are BLESSED, a lot of children can’t claim that love and devotion. You ROCK Nikki Skies!

  3. I sometimes work do voluntary work at an orphanage in the small town where I now live. (don’t ask about ‘sometimes’) I’m going to share this with the guys growing up, or get the pastor to do it. I worry for them. They have to leave at 18. What’s to become of them? They’re no where near being ready for the ‘big outside’ that contains incidents as you talk about here. Thanks for writing. I’ll reblog as well. It raises awareness.

  4. Nikki, your ESSENCE is essential today and for those beautiful brown lives you are helping to cultivate. I thank you … and love you more for all you do.

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