Go and Hug your “Michael”
by Kimberly Seals Allers
Yesterday I cried watching the Michael Jackson memorial. I cried for a little
black boy who felt the world didn't understand him. I cried for a little black
boy who spent his adulthood chasing his childhood. And I thought about all the
young black boys out there who may too feel that the world doesn't understand
them. The ones who feel that the world does not understand their baggy jeans,
their swagger, their music, their anger, their struggles, their fears or the
chip on their shoulder. I worry that my son, may too, one day will feel lonely
in a wide, wide world.
I cried for the young children of all colors who may live their life feeling
like a misfit, feeling like no one understands their perspective, or their soul.
What a burden to carry.
As a mother, I cried for Katherine Jackson because no mother should ever bury a
child. Period. And I think about all the pain, tears and sleepless nights that
she must have endured seeing her baby boy in inner pain, seeing him struggle
with his self-esteem, and his insecurities and to know he often felt unloved
even while the world loved him deeply. How does it feel to think that the
unconditional love we give as mothers just isn't enough to make our children
feel whole? I wonder if she still suffers thinking, "what more could I have
done?" Even moms of music legends aren't immune to mommy guilt, I suppose.
When Rev. Al Sharpton ("who always delivers one" awesome "funeral speech") said
to Michael's children, "Your daddy was not strange...It was strange what your
Daddy had to deal with," I thought of all the "strange" things of the world that
my children will have to deal with. Better yet, the things I hope they won't
ever have to deal with anymore.
And as a mother raising a young black boy, I feel recommitted and yet a little
confused as to how to make sure my son is sure enough within himself to take on
the world. Especially a "strange" one. To love himself enough to know that even
when the world doesn't understand you, tries to force you into its mold or
treats you unkindly, you are still beautiful, strong and Black. How do I do
Today, I am taking back "childhood" as an inalienable right for every brown
little one. In a world, that makes children into booty-shaking, mini-adults long
before their time, I'm reclaiming the playful, innocent, run-around-outside,
childhood as the key ingredient in raising confident adults. Second, I will not
rest until my little black boy, MY Michael, knows that his broad nose is
beautiful, his chocolately brown skin is beautiful, and his thick hair is
And nothing or no one can ever take that away from him.
"Now aint we bad? And ain't we black? And ain't we fine? ---Maya Angelou