What the Michael Jackson memorial meant to one mom.
Kimberly Seals Allers: Today 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 feel that the world doesn't understand them, too. 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 chips on their shoulders. I worry that my son may too one day 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. And I think about all the pain, tears, and sleepless nights that she must have endured seeing her baby boy in pain, seeing him struggle with his self-esteem and his insecurities, and to know he often felt unloved even while the world loved him. 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 hell of a funeral speech) said to Michael's children, "Your daddy was not strange ... It was strange what he 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.
Today, I am taking back "childhood" as an inalienable right for every little one. In a world that makes children into 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 knows that his broad nose is beautiful, his chocolately brown skin is beautiful, and his thick hair is beautiful. And nothing or no one can ever take that away from him.
|Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning business journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of MochaManual.com, a weekly online magazine for moms of color. She is the author of "The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy" and "The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit." Kimberly is a divorcing mother of two and lives on Long Island, NY.|