My son is not quite two. He plays the drums, the saxophone and the keyboard. And if an ability to make a lot of noise is a measure for skill, he is gifted. He enjoys eggs, singing Jingle Bells and chanting Mommy mommy mommy at obscene hours. He hates when his hands are dirty. He prefers Charlie Brown to Elmo. He thinks fart noises are comedy gold. And he loves, loves, loves playing with trucks. He loves identifying trucks. He loves saying the word ‘truck’. His pronunciation is not so tight quite yet, so it sounds like he’s cussing but trucks are his jam. I try my best to quiet my internal relief about that. I never prayed that he would be drawn to blue things. It was not my conscious desire that he be all snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. I shrugged my shoulders when someone mistook him as a little girl in the airport. They apologized profusely as if I may have been insulted, as if I should have been insulted. “I am so sorry! It’s just…the braids, I thought…” I was proud of my initial response. I am proud of my parenting style and the way I refuse to place heavy value on some of the silly gender expectations we assign children. I looked at my beautiful baby boy and smiled. I convinced myself that the haircut he got a month later was because I was tired of wrestling him to brush his hair and/or braid it and that it had nothing to do with people asking me when I was going to cut it and absolutely nothing to do with a stranger thinking he was a little girl.
I imagined myself being the type of parent who could buy their son an Easy Bake Oven and dare anybody to say anything about it. But the truth is I am the type of parent that is relieved by their son’s interest in trucks. I am not alarmed when he climbs the furniture and jumps off of it. I tell him “you’re fine” when he stumbles and is trying to decide whether he should cry or keep playing. When someone says, “He is all boy ain’t he?” I am pleased. It is my responsibility, to guide him towards being the person God has called him to be. And I realized that I am really hoping he only stands out in ways that will make his life easier. If he is smarter and faster and stronger than his peers, that would be better for him. If he is the most prayerful or the most creative he could excel in ways that would benefit his life. If he is unusual in the “wrong ways” it could make everything complicated. He is Black and his mother is single. Those two things alone make him eligible for every negative statistic that exists. I observed a mother describing her two year old Black son as soft when he would not stop crying. “You soft water! You so soft!” I watched this same baby’s uncle snatch a guitar out of his hands and reprimand him for playing with a girl’s toy. The guitar had pink designs on it. In those moments I felt like I was witnessing a crime. A baby was being robbed of his right to emote and play freely. Let’s meet up with this guy at twenty-two and see how well he manages interpersonal relationships. Right there under the surface of my polite smile was hard judgment. I judged the entire family. And as I traveled a little farther into myself I was able to understand. Forgive us Father. If fear and love are the only two motivating factors in any decision a human can make, then fear is winning when it comes to parenting.
This is not an article about my son. This is not even an article about subscribing to the Westernized ideals of femininity, masculinity and sexuality. It is an article about being held hostage by our fears. We are scared for our boys. It would not be difficult for me to love my son if he wanted to wear pink and play with Barbie dolls like www.myprincessboy.com . But it would be difficult for me to send him outside of our home knowing tolerance and understanding will not necessarily be waiting for him on the other side of the door. It is difficult to leave him now. Will his grandmother be as patient as I am when he throws a tantrum? Will his daycare provider respond to his finicky eating with kindness and other options? Will the children at the birthday party want to be his friend? Will his teachers cater to his learning style? I want him to be favored. I want him to be a leader. I want him to be outstanding. I want him to be loved. I don’t want him to get hurt. My “don’t wants” are so much louder.
I think I should be busy trying to create a world that is safer and more beautiful for every child instead of preparing my son for the world that actually exists. I lean toward the latter in practice, the former in poetry. I should do more. I don’t know how. Parents who discipline their sons for playing with toys that have glitter are not a part of my immediate circle. But their children may be a part of my son’s. I’m glad he likes trucks. For now, it makes me feel a little less afraid. But I promise not to ever snatch a pink guitar out of his hands. Even if I kind of want to a little bit.
By: LYNNETTE JOHNSON
Twitter: @KnottyPoet IG:KnottyMama
The coolness of the waters from the waves that fled the ocean kissed the tip of her toes. She lay naked in the sand as her eyes slowly gave birth to the stillness of the autumn breeze. Her nostrils inhaled the sweet fragrance of the sea and distant scents hailing from Eden. Life began to settle into her nervous system and she arose from the earth confused, alone and hesitant to take her first steps. As she began to wade along the shallow shore, she noticed what appeared to be a breathless life lying across the sand. Her eyes were immediately stricken with admiration, adornment and compassion. She fell down on one knee and began to nurse the appearance of an open wound that rendered “him” unconscious.
For days she sat by his side until he came to. When he awoke to her presence, he instantly fell in love and rejoiced in the Lord for fulfilling the emptiness of his heart. All the riches of the world that he ruled and governed couldn’t compare to what he felt for her. She did not need to worry, because she had everything that she could ever want, need or desire; yet in still, she felt something and had no explanation for her intuition.
One day she woke up and much to her surprise, he was not there. She felt abandoned, vulnerable and left with the responsibility of making independent decisions. For just a few moments she grew ignorant to the ideals that were instilled in her by his wisdom and understanding of his ordained leadership appointed from above. Wandering in unfamiliar land, she was intrigued by her own intuition simply because she didn’t understand why she lacked knowledge of all things that her flesh desired. Who would have thought that this one decision would have a detrimental effect on society and would shift the atmosphere in the universe for everyone? With no knowledge of her true identity, the moment she sunk her teeth into the forbidden fruit, she became EVE.
Eve, who told you that you were naked?
Who is Eve? The world has taken our most perfect creation, and given her an infinite amount of subjective, gender specific, stereotypes. If someone were to ask me to list a series of adjectives, to give life to the meaning of the word WOMAN, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. The thought to me seems too overly complex. Pondering who she is, why she is, what she is, and how she is, honestly makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat judgmental. I love her because she completes me. However, my heart is broken as I watch the world objectify and take her for granted, it makes my blood boil. I also understand that there is a glass ceiling that needs to be shattered by her mighty fist. I sympathize with her plight caused by years of classlessness along with glorification of her sexual presence. In all of her tribulations I remain proud of her, because her spirit continues to thrive. Even in barren lands of loneliness due to the absence, oppression and exploitation by Adam, she emerges. Over time, she has redefined herself, but one question still lingers in the atmosphere: “What about Eve?” As we continue to toil with the the appropriate language to “diagnose” the role of EVE, let me abolish any idea that we can simply restrict the spirit of EVE by sealing an air tight top on a glass jar and labeling it, “THE ROLE OF A WOMAN.” Just look at our failed attempts as we continue calling her out of her name.
She told me she hated her father shortly after receiving word of his passing. The man that was supposed to be her super-hero failed her by simply not being present. A father was never present in the men she chose to lay with. A father was never there to remind her how beautiful she was. So she found her spirit dormant; late at night all she had were her words. Her pen spoke to her book of rhymes as she confided deep dark secrets in between each page. She grew up confused and cursed the man that now lays six feet deep. She thought her dark skin made her ugly, while her natural hair made her feel less appealing to her light skinned,long haired counterparts. Her son Patrick reminds her so much of her no good “baby daddy” and she continues to struggle to secure a good man. Someone once told me that the easiest woman to sleep with was a female that has low self esteem and daddy issues. It has come to the point in her life where she concludes there are no good men anywhere. We call her Angry.
I went to college with her in 2005. I recently saw a photo of her graduating at top of her class from Columbia University. She looked so proud and radiant on Facebook, as she stood next to the President of the University. Smiling as the photographer captured the moment, she became Dr. Cynthia Matthews. Cynthia is doing pretty well for herself financially. At 29 years old she owns her own condo and drives a beautiful Mercedes Benz E550. Her rich taste in fashion adores Louis Vuitton, Versace and Donna Karan. She often frequents happy hours with her co-workers that are well known to the movers and shakers in her industry with hopes of expanding her network. The conversation varies between the light hearted jokes, diversifying financial portfolios, exotic vacations, and fine cuisine (her own version of Sex and the City). There is no sight of a significant other, so she masturbates her way through her nonexistent sex life. She absolutely has no desire to settle for any man that does not bring equal value to her lifestyle. We call her Independent.
Stephanie has a lot of self confidence, and she proudly displays her voluptuous 36- 24- 42 measurements. You assume all she does is work at a strip club and host parties with local rappers and club promoters. However, in reality she works as a Nurse in a hospital as a career. In addition to her amazing body and exotic appearance, Stephanie is independent and extremely personable. However, she is all over Facebook and other social media outlets, with her assets and liabilities on “Front Street,”doing it for the “likes”. Her life is fairly simple and her lifestyle is easily acquired. Her motto is very common to many, “F@ck N!g@$$, Get MONEY”. She doesn’t understand why females feel the need to hate on her, because to her, they are “UGLY.” In addition she snickers wittingly, and asks, “why is their man always in my inbox?” She tweeted once, “the same man you say won’t respect me or take me seriously in a relationship is the same man that doesn’t take you seriously, because he’s cheating on you with me. So l’m going to get this money, you can keep the man.” The youth of today call her a THOT.
Isn’t that Rachel? The same girl that was just with Darin a month ago? Yea that’s her. She also used to date one of my college football teammates, and my frat brother Justin. I think she’s just had a string of bad luck. Heart break after heartbreak, things just never seemed to work out for her. It’s a shame too, because she’s a very nice girl. She’s smart, good looking and she sure can fry her some fish! Wait, but who’s that girl she’s with though? No, don’t tell Mona got her now. The neighborhood dyke strikes again. Mona often used to tell me how she just waits patiently for the next heart broken female to come running to her when they are simply sick and tired of being sick and tired of men. So she reaps the benefits and helps them identify with certain aspects of their sexuality. I mean who could blame her? You call her a Lesbian, but you believe it’s all a front.
All Jennifer wants is equality for women, if a man can do it so can she. After all, who wrote the book on double standards anyway? She wants equal wages for all women, she doesn’t want to be sexually restricted by the subjective views forced on her by men. She speaks with an astute, yet witty vocabulary and has every intention of leaving a relevant and direct point of view. The woman with the iron fist sores to the raptures and shatters the glass ceiling. Her persona and presence will not be forecasted to identify with a gender specific role. She stands in the middle of a protest ridden highway intersection topless and calling for justice. The world calls her a Feminist.
She is brave, educated, ambitious, sexy and irreplaceable. Regardless of our personal opinion and slightly chauvinistic points of views at time, as men we have to continue to uplift our women. The true knowledge of self is forever evolving. The woman that bit from the tree of knowledge is no different than the women of today, who continue to seek knowledge of self. As life continues to tempt her with images of man-made doctrine and ideals, she just may sample the fruit that is most appealing to her. One thing for sure, she never stopped loving Adam and she never tore down his identity of masculinity, even in states of emotional disconnect and spiritual warfare. As Eve continues to toil through stereotypes while breaking down the barriers of her social class, she remains wounded yet triumphant. I call her a WARRIOR.
The perfect gift, that’s what she is. Whispers of God’s promise to him, she became a wife. Eve is an architect and a creator of life that lays out a blueprint to build and replenish the nation with the future of our next generation. She is a teacher of God’s word and she is a healer; as she saves lives of the sick in hospitals all over the world. She is an intellectual, delivering powerful opening and closing arguments to defend the innocent and prosecute the guilty in the court of law. Eve is a Mayor, Governor and possibly the first female President of the United States. The day Eve became empowered with the knowledge of her true self, she decided that she could literally be anything that she so desired. So yes, What About Eve? As you continue to decide what you want her to be, she will continue to rise and progress past any stigma that we place on her. Her role in society will continue to be an evolution of transition.
Adam called out to her and the enemy fled. Eve batted her eyes and used her sexy appearance to lure Adam into a sense of confusion. She asked him why can’t we partake of this fruit in the garden. It looks so good and I am dying to know what it tastes like. Adam replied, Eve here I am. I am all that you need to satisfy your curiosity of life. Now follow me, take my hand and let’s replenish this nation. And Eve threw down the fruit, took her husband’s hand and toiled not for the rest of their lives. Adam was home and Eve never broke a sweat as long as she lived. She had no reason to feel insecure, helpless, and defeated. Together they filled each other up with everything they needed. And remained naked in Eden.Or NAW?