can we talk about black girls?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in black girls, family, for boys who love

i have three nieces – ages 14, 8 and 3. i didn’t have them, but they’re mine. they’re yours. they are ours. somewhere along the way i think we relaxed on the ‘it takes a village‘ mentality. with all this r. kelly talk and the young black woman recently attacked at mcdonald’s, i wonder when we eased up on protecting black girls and have black men, too, stop caring as much about and for them?

i remember when my oldest niece was born. the excitement was heavy. i chose her first name. she was our family healer. my parents who hadn’t spoken in 10 years after ending their 29-year marriage were now in the same room…and talking. as she got older i bought her cute little dresses in every shade of pink. i got her a faux mink coat from target and wrote her a poem informing her of her royalty for her 2nd birthday. i adored everything about her and we all cared and treated her as the special gift she was then and still is. my 8-year-old niece and i have a special bond; we share the same birthday. she’s the most precocious, witty little girl i know. and her 3-year-old sister is direct and gritty. they’re my venus and serena. again, i didn’t have these girls, but they are mine. they’re yours. they’re ours. as a black man first and their uncle second, i’ll do anything to protect them – from harm, their own potential mistakes and especially anyone who dares to even think put their hands on them. i’ll also drive the 345 miles for a recital or an award and even to talk about those slipping grades.

my 14-year-old cousin gave me a unique privilege – she let me follow her on instagram! i felt cool. in with the happenings of today’s teens. then she posted something i knew was wrong. not just wrong for a 14-year-old, i felt it was just wrong. i told her mom then called her out in the comments. okay, so she blocked me but my message was heard – i’m watching you and more importantly, i have concern for an about you; even what you post on social media. can you imagine if instagram were around in the 90’s? the thought of an r.kelly sliding in your teenage daughter’s, your little cousin or her best friend’s dm’s both frightens me for them and my own actions toward him. sadly, i’m sure it’s happening at this very second.

but black girls need more than protection – they need love, support, ears that hear them, secure women to look up to and for all men to treat them like the queens we know they are. how can we show black girls we care? with my nieces, i:

  1. establish trust. i listen, honestly share of my own childhood and adult journeys and extend a whole lot of grace. this helps keep deceit and secrets away. i want them to know disappointment is too big a burden as consequence for any size lie.
  2. ask questions. they might think i’m oprah with the “how are you” (just saying “good” is unacceptable), “wyd”, “who is that” and “what did you learn today” but they understand my genuine interest in their lives.
  3. let them know that i am part of their trusted community. and if i’m helping raise them, i will reprimand them when they’re wrong and praise them when they succeed. i was raised by a community and my rural, backwoods north carolina upbringing wouldn’t have it any other way. i think my brother and sister agree.
  4. let them not only know, but feel that they are loved. and love is many things. it’s asking those questions, it’s listening to their heart break and brighten up and it’s as toni morrison asks, “when a kid walks in a room, your child or anybody else’s child, does your face light up?”
  5. remind them of their worth and show them they are more precious than rubies.

what are you doing to show a black girl you care?

a boy who loves – j. darius greene

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get your thoughts together

Posted Leave a commentPosted in for boys who love, love

we’re quick to questions others, but what are we asking ourselves? a few years ago, i answered one of my mom’s 7:30am calls (she’s since learned even 10am is a bit too early). i answered and in a husky, groggy voice fumbled with my words to her questions. she said “son, get your thoughts together.” i’m still gathering them. in this season of new things ahead, here’s what i’m asking myself… (more…)

you’re welcome for more

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

it’s the most wonderful time of the year. some of us appear nicer, have hearts full of cheer and eager for new beginnings when that glittery ball drops. but think to the last time you gave something or fulfilled someone’s request and were shown appreciation. in that giving, how many times did you say “you’re welcome” when someone said “thank you?” to the receiver, those words can be an offering of (deeper) trust.

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hard to date, easy to love

Posted Leave a commentPosted in family, for boys who love, love

ever heard something so dope and impactful that you instantly got what it meant for you but the person ruined it with the explanation? yea, me too. at our family thanksgiving vacation, my cousin said to me, “you’re probably hard to date.” i knew exactly what she meant, didn’t inquire and she didn’t explain. there was no need to. i got it for me…or what i needed to hear for where i am with myself right now. (more…)

no need speed racer

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slow down sir, there’s no fire,” the strange, thick, caribbean accent shouted as i strutted and strolled to my office. “who are you,” i thought? this man didn’t know i always walk fast. he didn’t know i knew exactly where i was going. he also didn’t know i walked this same route every…single…day. i don’t think he cared about any of that. what he wisely knew however, is that no matter my destination, i didn’t have to rush. and i should enjoy the beauty of the journey. he was right.

a boy who loves – j. darius greene

to give or not give a fck

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you gotta leave grown folk alone,” my uncle told me a few years. it’s still true. there’s a little ‘fuck em, let em do what they do‘ in there, too. i agree. do you! but shouldn’t there be consideration given when thinking about what to give fucks about and what not to? a level of care toward it. most likely, we don’t give a fuck about people or things because we don’t know that much about them or it. or another, maybe more valid reason is because there’s no respect. when they try to take your vote, there’s no respect. or try to force a gender on you: no respect. say #sowhat to your #metoo: no respect, zero reflection and not a drop of empathy. (more…)

don’t get too comfortable

Posted Leave a commentPosted in family, for boys who love, love, Uncategorized

last weekend some friends and i bar hopped around dc. when the rooftop at our regular spot was closed for a private event, we headed to another familiar, eye-candied one. as usual, we caught up with old friends, met new ones and ended the night full of little white receipts from our adventures. there were definitely a few nice things to look at. and i love beautiful things – clothes, food, people, art, etc. i love watching (ask me about that one time i got caught and was cussed out by a lady in oakland). and sometimes i want to go beyond looking. i might want to buy it. or try it on. and others, i might want to get to know it better. so over the weekend when a cutie caught my friends eye and i heard him say, “i like ’em, but i don’t want to keep em around,” i wondered what he meant. i can be reading too much into it. maybe he too, just wanted to see some good eye candy and knew it would never be anything more. but still, i thought what was underneath it. (more…)

still kicking, just not that high

Posted Leave a commentPosted in family, for boys who love, love, Uncategorized

one of the greatest men i ever knew was my granddaddy, connie wesley manley. i love him more years after he’s gone. i wrote a poem for him in my book and i said there that daily i rise deeper into the man he was. and at 41, i’m finally understanding him. his life has taught me both growth and grit. growing up, i thought he was the most stubborn man alive. if you wanted a soda and asked him for a quarter, he’d want his money back the next time you saw him. what he was doing however, was holding people accountable – you give your word, you keep your word. (more…)