Poem: For Boys With Colored Roots

I wanna be an engineer for the army

I want to be a football player in the NFL

I don’t want to be a soccer player

I want to be a soccer champion

And a paleontologist and a firefighter

And an artist like my parents

And while I’m at it, I want to do good for the world

I want to be a songwriter for Disney

I want to be a fashion designer

I just want to paint


These are the dreams of little colored boys

Every now and then, I am blessed to stand in their presence

To watch the twinkle in their eyes

And dimples in their cheeks

As they tell me their dreams

I am in awe when I see how wholly

Their dreams inhabit every crevice of their being.

Sometimes I sit and imagine how sweet their dreams must be

Like Kookaburra in the old gum tree


But then it hits me

Like waves from riptides crashing into cliff sides

That for some of these boys, their dreams will go unfulfilled

My heart sinks like a lead cube to the ocean floor

Because I know that there are places in this world

Where “some” is more than “just a few”

For Jubril, war is a place he calls home

For Peter, it’s the ghetto

And somehow

Even though they both live half a world away from each other

They still manage to be neighbors with Desolation and Hunger

Many others like them take the meandering journey

On the road that leads to  nowhere

They pass through the valleys of fathers who don’t believe ’em

Only to climb the mountains of societies that belittle them

Then hop into a hamster wheel to chase an opportunity

That always feels like it’s one revolution away

Soon enough they’re never sure if they’re running from something

Or running to something

And just like that boys like Jack

Become too afraid to look back

Because they’re too scared that the giants might get ’em

And you know what, sometimes they do

And it’s tomorrow’s headline on the evening news


I wonder why it has to be like this

When another day passes

Another tear shed

Another boy laid to rest in a place that’s not his bed

And  when that happens I wonder where their dreams go


Do they simply disappear

Do they travel with them into the next world

Or do they stay behind hoping for someone

To pick them up

To dust them off

To hold them close and say

You are the thing I know I want to love


This is for all the boys with colored roots

In every shade from Tundra tinted to Humus Hued.

This is for the ones who were born in England, grew up in Nigeria and wound up in America

This for the ones who are like a tapestry made up of various threads of European textures

Decorated in Native American colors

And stitched by African American expression

This is for the third culture kids

This is for the Appalachians and the Inuits

This is for the untouchables and the Almajiris

This is for the man who looks into the mirror

And sees the reflection of the boy he used to be


Sometimes I want to tell him

That despite the fact that you are

Perfect in every way

And you are beautiful in every shade

This world won’t always treat you kindly

But even still,

You must never be afraid to be amazing


Sometimes you have to close your eyes and jump

Because if you don’t

You’ll never know what it feels like to fall

And you will never know what it feels like to fly either


Lastly, there might come a day

When someone sees you as a threat

And if that day comes

Look ’em square in the eye

And tell them that you are your own dream

So you don’t have to be their nightmare

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