The Talk

by Vincente Perez


How do I give my sons the talk?
I want to teach my sons about consent…
I’ll tell them that their body is their own
They will never be afraid when I raise my hand
And they won’t be afraid to raise theirs

But as Black and Brown boys
Can I really teach them about autonomy?
Are their bodies truly their own?
A vigilante body called police
Could steal them from me at any moment
So how do I give them the talk?

How do I tell them that they will not be treated the same
That their skin will seem like a stain
They will be treated as mistake
Hair, talk, and name ain’t right
How do I teach them to fight
A battle they never even asked for?

They were enlisted at birth
Birthmark called Blackness
Last name marked Other
Embodied danger
How do I teach them that I cannot stop this?

I will say never judge anyone
as I prepare them to be judged by everyone around them
If I say you are valuable
They will notice that everyone else asks for proof

While other kids deal with pimples and 1st dates
I will teach them how to act around police officers
We will sit down and have the talk
Just like my mother did with me.

I will tell them that Cops are people too,
But you can never remind them of that fact.
Become cyborg, superhuman strength no feeling
Do not think of Trayvon, You are not Tamir Rice
Think “this time will be different”
Respond yes Sir, Yes Ma’am
To every “I will fuck you up”

Forget for however long you need to
That you are human
Cops are ventriloquists
Become puppet
Make no movements that are your own
and when you come home I will hold you
And only then, can you be scared

I will hold you.
We will talk
We will heal
It was not ok, but it can be

I will help you rest easy
Even though I never will
Knowing we will probably need to
Have this talk again.

You will be Black Boys
To everyone who sees you,
So I promise to remind you
Every chance I can
That there is pride in your history

That your hair is a blessing
Wiley like your being
There are civilizations
In your walk
War drums in your talk

You live to teach.
Kings of your own right
So please give me the talk
And know that I cannot wait to listen.

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artwork by Lonnie Wash, Jr.

Categories: Poetry