When I started working for New Earth, I noticed it.
They were tall, and stunning. These men, deep, dark shades of brown.
This is not to say I never noticed that my men were captivating. This is just to say these were different, and grabbed at my collar in a new way. I grew up with men who looked like this, but since my eyes had been somewhat closed to them for a while, everything from their nail beds to their earlobes railed against my vision.
In my initial interview, I noticed the brother talking to me was attractive, but the way he was questioning me made me consider him a little pompous. The curve of his lips, and his basketball player walk escaped me until we actually started working together and he smiled with me as I got acquainted with other staff members.
I don’t think I have ever seen faces like his, like all the others I met there.
Low hair cuts, high top fades with militant locs of hair bunched together, reaching for the galaxies, dreadlocs, afros. Curly, and wavy, and ready to dance, and ready to fight.
One by one, I started to notice them.
The way their voices sounded, and the way they made me feel.
The distinctness, the near harshness of what it means to be them, coming out of their throats. These voices don’t politely tap you on the shoulder and ask for you to listen. They grab your papers out of your hands, and put Acme anvils on your soles. Your soul. I don’t know what far-off land I had traveled out to where I stopped noticing their majesty, but I am so excited to be back. Now, I have the opportunity to be lost in them again. Getting lost is one of my favorite things to do. I’m blessed enough to be able to experience this daily. Talking to them and having the hardest time listening and not listening, because a beard is beating a bass drum as a mouth moves, and the things coming out of the mouth are so profound. The lips are thick and pouty, and maybe even a little dark because of ganja. These are the same lips that I have the ability to create. Eve gene.
It has become a mission of mine to study them. Sometimes, I am not even trying. They walk by, or sit in a chair and I am transfixed. Sometimes I want to step into their skin to get an understanding of what it means to be that cool, and that untouchable. I don’t know if I would be able to handle the power that comes with being them.
Or maybe the sadness, and awareness of a body constantly under attack, but this pen isn’t being used for disadvantages today. It is being used for the glory of being a black man.
Even the youngest of them know they have a thing.
My students speak to me with their beautiful selves, and when I jump over the hurdles of trauma and get them going, there are buckets of intelligence spilling over onto my shoes. I have a hard time not smiling at them even when I am upset at something they have done, because of their eyes. I see the little boys in there trying to climb out, clawing and crying and pouting. Along with the men they are getting ready to become.
Their charm is a little scary.
Wow, Black men.
How do you do it?
You raise children. Yours and everyone else’s.
You take them to school and you feed them.
And you still make a way to adorn yourself in such a way that creates a forcefield between you and the others. When I see you now, you aren’t wearing your regular clothes. In my sight, you are dressed like a warrior, ready to do battle for us. Ready to hunt, ready to find the ripest, most juicy fruit for us to enjoy together while you tell stories to our children and pat them to bed so we can enjoy the stars together. It is hard to look without touching.