He said he loved being black.
His voice was barely a whisper above the soft sound of the tangerine comb gliding its way through his curls. His brother, my littlest, was fiddling with my contact case, turning it upside down and spinning it against the ball of his fingertips.
For a moment, I forgot what I had been saying. The rush of the morning slowed and the light from the rising sun suddenly filled our halls. I had been feeling heavy. An early morning scroll of social media will do that to you. Everyone was outraged. Everyone was frustrated. We’d witnessed a man who looked like my husband take his last breathes on a street corner, and we’d learned no one would pay.
I’d rose from bed with my alarm as I had done every morning, chucking my phone to the nightstand beside my bed. I watched my sons' bounce into our room. I rested my hand in the warm spot my husband had left and listened to the sound of the shower beat down on him from our bathroom. I rose, helping my boys, 4 and 7, make up their beds. I guided them to the bathroom to wash their faces and brush their teeth. I rubbed shea butter into my palms and then spread it onto my eldest son’s hair. I smiled as I ran my fingers through his deep dark curls, softer than mine but just tight enough to defy gravity in curves all over his head.
“You have such beautiful curls,” I’d said, picking up the comb and gently releasing a few curls from the matts last night’s sleep had left.
“You too, Peanut,” I said to my youngest. He smiled and looked back down at my contact case, spinning it in whatever world he was inventing in his head. “I love that we are a curly haired family.” I said it consciously. Deliberately. Making the choice I made every day to reaffirm our beauty. I wanted them to grow up believing it; not to have to learn to, as I had. I slid the comb down to the nape of his neck, mentally preparing the list of things the day would bring after they were safely in school. Emails, phone calls, gym…
That’s when he said it. He stared at our reflections in the bathroom mirror. The glass slightly foggy from my husband’s shower.
“I love being black, Mommy,” he said. He said it matter of factly. The way he said he loved oatmeal in the morning, honey on his fingertip when he returned from school, or the way he loved writing comic books with his best friend, Caleb. In that moment, he meant he loved his curls. He meant he loved the scent of shea butter in his hair. He meant he saw beauty shining back at him in his golden brown reflection. In all of our reflections. A big smile spread across his pink lips. His missing teeth made his sweet smile even sweeter.
I beamed. Wordless for a moment. In all my effort to prepare him for the worst, I hadn’t noticed how truly good it would feel to prepare him for the best. For all the beauty. For all it meant to be black that sprouts beyond the distraction of oppression.
I kissed his temple and squeezed his waist. “Me too, baby,” I said softly in his ear.
Love and Light,