Dear Black Man
I love you.
I have always loved you and, for as long as there is breath in this meat sack, I will always love you. I need to love you. Because, after all, you are me.
Your default setting is not straight, aggressive and violent. You can be tender. We know this. I know this. I have experienced your tenderness. Your vulnerability. Your soft, sensitive parts. I know them well and they are the most beautiful parts of you.
Know that our fathers failed us. They tried. They did what they could with what they had and none of this is their fault. But they failed.
They failed to teach us that there was more than one kind of man. When you become a man, they tell you, indoda inye (there is only one man). This is a lie. We are legion and we come in as many varieties as there are different grains of sand on the beach.
We are beautiful, even if we don’t always show it. Even if we choose to be ugly because we think this will gain us acceptance with our peers. Oh, but how powerful is the man who shows beauty. Who inspires beauty.
Capitalism is not made for you. It will twist you and break you. It will undo you only to remake you in its own image. It will make you unrecognisable to those who know you best. And breed a desire to be accepted by those who do not even care to pronounce your name to its full. To even allow their mouths to fill with the names of more than 2 000 years of you and me.
A penis does not make you a man. Some men have vaginas and that is okay. Do not fear this. To be a man is more than anatomy. It is to navigate a space of social, political and sexual privilege.
All men — trans and cis — know how easy it is to become consumed by the privilege, the ease of life. As queer men, we also remember how painful it is to be excluded from privilege. We have the power to change this. Why don’t we? And not only for other men, but for all people.
I also want you to know that asking permission is not weakness. It’s courtesy. And it’s sexy. You know that moment of peak arousal when you’re basically barely human? Yes? I know it too. I also know how frustrating and disappointing it is to have to stop. To suspend the sexy times. To give yourself blue balls. You know what you can do in that moment? Calmly get up, go somewhere private and knock one out. You’ll feel better, I promise. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.
And, if it’s never happened to you before, know that at some point in your life, you might find yourself questioning your sexuality. Don’t freak out. It happens all the time, to all of us. It’s okay to be attracted to someone of the same or opposite sex. You don’t have to act on it. But if you do, be courteous. Be reciprocative. Be present. Don’t use other mothers’ children as objects. Unless you have made prior arrangements and you’re both into it. Consent, as always, is key.
Do not get riled up when people call you ugly. Don’t be mad at comparisons with men from elsewhere. I think you’re beautiful. But you have some ugly bits. We all do. Work on them. Listen when someone tells you they are hurt by something you have said or done. Do not defend yourself. Learn to do better. Be better. I believe in you.
Be kind to each other. Be kind to others. Protect other black people at all times. The world only wants us for our utility, we’re all we have. Each other.
Our traditions are not rigid. They are fluid. We have the power to change them. To save ourselves from being swallowed completely by foreign impositions on our lives. To make us able to withstand modernity with our dignity and pride intact.
Let’s raise better sons so our daughters don’t have to fight them. Let’s raise better sons so that they don’t have to kill each other. Let’s raise better sons so we don’t have to hear anymore about how awful we are.
I write you these words with nothing but love.