I was announced as a boy, I was born a son. In those first moments of life, every new breath I took confirmed my role as a baby brother, a grandson, a nephew, and a cousin.
Two years later I became a big brother. I would repeat that role three more times. They began to introduce me to the world, where I became a friend, a classmate, and to few, a regular playmate.
I was being raised as a Black boy by strong Black women. They sent me off to become a student. I excelled. Before 1st grade I was someone’s best friend. 2nd grade I became a poet. I’ve never looked back. All the way till 6th grade I was a scholar.
In church I became a tenor, an usher, a Master of Ceremony, a soloist, a Sunday School teacher, a leader, and an object of affection (boyfriend?). Clearly not all at once.
After Winter Recess of 7th grade I was a certified flirt. Before the end of my Jr. High career I was a 3x Champ. I found out I was someone’s crush. I became some what of a dancer (modern, jazz, ballet) and almost considered myself an artist. I was definitely a growing socialite and a victim of some SERIOUS puppy love.
High school came and I became even more. I was a growing, young Black man. I became a stepper; a performer. I was somebody’s boyfriend. I mean FOR REAL boyfriend. I became somebody’s first…on more than one occasion and in more than one sense.
I became a graduate. I became a son/brother/nephew/cousin/Grandson they could be proud of.
Then I became I college man.
Through the years I was a repeated lover…even while being a boyfriend. I became a spoken word artist. I love the stage. I honed my skills as a confidant, a comforter, and a companion. I became a frat; a brother in a different sense.
So much has changed since then. I am a born again New Yorker. I’m Youth Development Professional. I’ve been a supervisor to people who were once my peers. I’m a resource to those looking for work. I am a coach to the young and know-it-alls, trying to whip them into shape. I am an above and beyond uncle, and an appointed Godfather. I am an optimist and a humanitarian. I’ve been a part of a Millennial movement and I’ve had the honor of being a best man.
Notice that nowhere in there did I claim to be a thug. I am no one’s nigger/nigga. I’m not a baby daddy ducking and dodging my responsibilities. I am not a criminal, a felon, nor have I ever been a suspect. But that can change with my hands up and the pull of a trigger….
I am a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a Grandson, a lover and a friend they can be proud of. I am a strong Black man raised by strong Black women.