When you are 13 years old,
the heat will be turned up too high
and the stars will not be in your favor.
You will hide behind a bookcase
with your family and everything left behind.
You will pour an ocean into a diary.
When they find you, you will be nothing
but a spark above a burning bush,
still, tell them
Despite everything, I really believe people are good at heart.
When you are 14,
a voice will call you to greatness.
When the doubters call you crazy, do not listen.
They don’t know the sound
of their own God’s whisper. Use your armor,
use your sword, use your two good hands.
Do not let their doubting
drown out the sound of your own heartbeat.
You are the Maid of Untamed Patriotism.
Born to lead armies into victory and unite a nation
like a broken heart.
When you are 15, you will be punished
for learning too proudly. A man
will climb onto your school bus and insist
your sisters name you enemy.
When you do not hide,
he will point his gun at your temple
and fire three times. Three years later,
in an ocean of words, with no apologies,
you will stand before the leaders of the world
and tell them your country is burning.
When you are 16 years old,
you will invent science fiction.
The story of a man named Frankenstein
and his creation. Soon after you will learn
that little girls with big ideas are more terrifying
than monsters, but don’t worry.
You will be remembered long after
they have put down their torches.
When you are 17 years old,
you will strike out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
one right after the other.
Men will be afraid of the lightening
in your fingertips. A few days later
you will be fired from the major leagues
because “Girls are too delicate to play baseball”
You will turn 18 with a baby on your back
leading Lewis and Clark
across North America.
You will turn 18
and become queen of the Nile.
You will turn 18
and bring justice to journalism.
You are now 18, standing on the precipice,
trembling before your own greatness.
This is your call to leap.
There will always being those
who say you are too young and delicate
to make anything happen for yourself.
They don’t see the part of you that smolders.
Don’t let their doubting drown out the sound
of your own heartbeat.
You are the first drop of a hurricane.
Your bravery builds beyond you. You are needed
by all the little girls still living in secret,
writing oceans made of monsters and
throwing like lightening.
You don’t need to grow up to find greatness.
You are stronger than the world has ever believed you to be.
The world laid out before you to set on fire.
All you have to do
Let us be vividly clear about this.
What the New York Times did to Michael Brown today was not merely slander. It wasn’t a case of a lack of journalistic integrity.
Highlighting that a black teenager was “no angel” on the day he is being laid to rest after being hunted and killed by racist vigilante forces is not an unfortunate coincidence.
The New York Times deliberately played into an archaic American tradition in devaluing both the merit of black life and the tragedy of black death.
They chose the day of his funeral, as his family, friends and activists everywhere have to grapple with a human being lost to pontificate about how he was “no angel”. Michael Brown was many things to many people; a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew and another black causality of murderous police institutions and today, amidst all the racist violence he, his loved ones and community have had to endure, he was going to finally receive the respect and moment of honor he deserved and NYT decided today, of all days, to tune in their audience onto wholly irrelevant facts about his life - that in turn, transform the very injustice surrounding his death and the following police violence that plagued Ferguson into a national panel about whether or not his death is actually worth mourning and their language suggested that to them, it indeed is not.
This was hardly an accident or mistake. This is the perpetual hostility that is met against black life in America. The consensus is that black people deserve no respect and for black life to be legitimized and honored, we must meet a list of prerequisites. Subsequently, if black people aren’t valued, neither are our deaths understood as tragic or murders seen as criminal action.
This has been the atmosphere of America since its inception and much has not improved.