Friends: MyBrownBaby contributor Bassey Ikpi penned this post and recorded the accompanying video, “Apology To My Brown Boy,” for her site, Bassey’s World. She very graciously allowed MyBrownBaby to share her words and videotaped poem here.
By BASSEY IKPI
About ten years ago, a few years before I became a mother, I wrote a poem called “Apology To My Unborn,” about my fears for my then unborn son. My son is now 5 years old and has been asking me about Trayvon Martin. I’ve done the best I can to answer him in ways that make sense to him but I’ve become incredibly saddened by the weight of it. The fact that there are conversations that I’m going to have to have with him as he gets older that go beyond normal parenting upsets me. I hate the fact that there are rules of conduct for boys of color that are meant to keep them from being murdered senselessly. It pains me. The fact that despite these rules, it takes just one person to act out and stop their life, infuriates me. But at the end of the day, my job as a parent, is to make sure that my son doesn’t carry the weight of society. I can’t raise him to fear. I won’t.
I have been unable to write about Trayvon Martin because there is so much more to this than what I have the space to comprehend. I don’t know what to say. Tomorrow will be a month.
This morning, I did a free write on my son and Trayvon and questions and parenting and I revisited my poem Apology To My Unborn and used it as a writing prompt. This poem is more or less something answering myself as my son is now older and my fears have changed. This is not a work in progress because I don’t think I can stand to go back and edit and shape it into something that makes sense. I can’t let this fear and pain affect how I raise my child. I won’t.
My love and prayers go out to you and yours.
Love someone and mean it. Please.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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This was absolutely beautiful and touching…I’ve been dealing with these thoughts also with our newborn boy. Through all the words I want to use to describe how this feels, to discuss the gaunlet we must walk…it’s just unfair. Just like you wrote, these aren’t just normal parenting issues, but a very specific set of rules or circumstances that we will face, deal with and be forced to explain. I remember how the generation I was raised in (and my father’s was worse), our parents would be harder on us, hold us to higher standards of behavior as a reaction to the reality of the outside world. The school of thought was that being harsh and whoopings and being strict were necessary because “if I don’t keep you in line, they will” and “they” meant police, racism, harassment, violence, murder. It’s a shame that deep down through all the rouse of this post racial america, I do still operate somewhat with this school of thought.
Thank you for this Bassey
It’s beautiful and touching and true. I am so grateful to realise that we all go through the same world as mothers of brown babies – whether we are brown or white or in between. I am glad I found your site.
This is beautiful, love it!
Bassey- This is so beautiful and powerful. It made me cry and and yet was helpful to me as a mother . I also worry about all of what you said in your poem. With much gratitude, Jennifer