Monthly Archives: December 2017

Why Is The Barber Shop Critical?

There’s an essence to being a Black man. Young Black Boys form their own essence by being around Black men when it’s safe for them to let their guards down, in places where Black men can be just… men. And the key experience a young Black boy must soak in so he can become a Black man is the barbershop.

Luc and Reed’s trip to their barbershop today:

Owner: “How is Batman so strong when he doesn’t have any powers?”

Patron: “He’s got the suit.”

Owner: “No, I get how the suit protects him from harm. But the strength! Where’s he get that Superman-like strength?”

Patron: “I’m telling you, it’s the suit.”

Owner: “I’ll concede the suit gives him protection. But no suit gives a man that kind of strength. Look at him fighting right alongside all those superheroes with real powers.”

Barber: “It’s not the suit.”

Patron: “What do you mean ‘It’s not the suit’? Of course it’s the suit! What else could it be??”

Barber: “He’s quick.”

Owner: “But ‘quick’ doesn’t give you strength to grab a guy like that. That’s not fast, that’s strong. Pure and simple.”

Patron: “Its the suit.”

Barber: “It’s not the suit!”

Owner: “Fabric can’t give a no-super power man all that strength. Where does he get the physical strength to throw a huge villain like that?”

Luc: “He’s Batman.

Beat.

Owner: “I’m with that young man.”

Patron: “That’s it.”

Barber: “Yup.”

The End.

If Four Boys Cry For An Hour, Does the Adult Cry Too?

Swimming is like flying, except for the part about how it’s the opposite of flying. But in my mind, when I swim, I’m soaring over the ground, feeling the water rush past my face. Swimming is the best! Water is the best! Don’t ask me what sign I am. I really don’t think that has anything to do with it. ANYWAY! I love to swim, and I love my job teaching adorable 3rd graders to swim.

Except on Friday. I did not love my job on Friday.

On Friday, four of my six students shiver-cried for the entire hour. Nothing I said or did could get them to stop crying. The more they cried, the more they curled up their little bodies and clung to the wall. The most I could get out of one kid was to reach out and tap my hand, then he snapped his hand right back to the wall.

I started this job confident I’d revolutionize the world, one swimmer at a time. I just knew I could teach any child to swim, no matter how stubborn. It’s not an easy job, physically or emotionally. But it’s rewarding, and it’s fun. The children inspire me with their unique approaches to life.

Gavin marched to the end of the diving board with wild-eyed determination. He announced, “Ooonnne! Twwooo! Threeeee?! BIG! JUMP!” Then, he slid into the water with a tiny splash.

Elisha, after transforming his kick form so that he moved forward instead of backward, decided his birthday present to himself was to jump off the diving board. How cool is an 8 year old whose birthday gift to himself is to conquer a fear?!

Abraham’s key phrase was, “Let me do it by myself, and don’t help me. Even if I struggle. Okay?”

Carmen made the mistake of saying, “I can’t” in front of me on the first day. I made her say what I make all the girls say. And she greeted me with that phrase every day for the next three weeks: “I am a strong, powerful woman!” But she surprised me by adding a snap and a hair flip.

But Friday.

I wondered if I made a mistake applying for and accepting this job. Maybe I’m just a person who likes swimming, but who has no business working with children ever. Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. But I love the kids, and the swimming, so much that I decided stay until they fire me. Fortunately, I don’t think they fire people just because their students cry. For an hour.

An. Hour.

Yet I press onward!!!!!!!!!!

Does This Hot Prowl Burglary Suspect Look Familiar?

Does This Hot Prowl Burglary Suspect Look Familiar?

Why yes, Pasadena Police Department, your sketch looks familiar. Your cartoonishly generic sketch that you circulated in a 98.9% White and Asian neighborhood looks like 400 years of vilifying Black men.

It looks like a tool for brainwashing people into fearing Black men instead of loving, admiring, and uniting with them.

It looks like justification for calling the police to investigate a neighbor or a real estate agent.

Pasadena Police Department, your sketch looks like the excuse people will reference when they call the police on my son and his friends in a few years.

Yes, Pasadena PD, your Hot Prowl Burglary Suspect looks all too familiar.

May Black Men Squint?

8 year old dark-skinned Black boy is tired from swimming. He’s staring into space. It’s sunny, so he’s also squinting. I smile and wave, but he’s so zoned out that I don’t even register to him. It makes me laugh because he looks so serious, but he’s just an 8 year old cutie.

Me: “Look at that little guy. He looks so…”

Her: “He looks so angry.”

Me: “Um no, I was going to say serious. I don’t think he looks angry at all.”

Whoah! What?! Angry? Wow.

Her comment hits me extra hard because I think of her as one of the good ones. She’s in her 20’s. Most of my friends in their 20’s give me hope for the future of our country. And she’s definitely in that category for me. Or she was.

Now I know that when my son squints into the sun, he too will be perceived as angry.