To the Little Boys in my Urban Classroom


I wish I could make you want it. I wish I could make you feel it – a deep desire…an aching thirst…to accept the keys I try to give you…every single day. I want, so badly, for you to grasp those keys, unlock the gate, and forge a path, fiercely, toward a bold future. I want you to have success beyond the minimum of what is required of you. I want you to claim your brilliance. I want you to outsmart them…all of them…those who look down upon you and underestimate you. I want you to surprise them with your eloquence and alarm them with your capabilities. I want those in the establishment to be threatened by your intelligence. I want you to seize the power that that brings you and wield it with the benevolence they never gave you…or me…or your sisters of color…or anyone that isn’t white and male.

The world needs you. The world needs men who understand what it’s like to be marginalized because there are so many others that have been, too. The world needs to see men of color who have found a way to rise above. It needs their heart…and grit…and guts…and perseverance. It needs to see you as something other than the stereotype that popular culture has painted you to be. It needs to see that you know…that you believe…you are more because you are. You are so much more to me. You are so much more to the people who love you. You embody the hopeful potential for which so many of us long – the hopeful potential of human evolution. Your success equals the success of our human race, not just your ethnicity. When humans overcome the direst of circumstances, we are all lifted.

Okay, guys, I know that I’m just some old white lady, but I love you. And I think you know that I love all the children in our classroom. As I tell you almost every single day, we are a “classroom family.” We love each other. Still, you still test me…almost every day. You want to make sure I’m not just saying that, like some people in your life have done. I know the things you do are, in reality, just asking me, “Will you still love me if I do this? Okay. Weeell, how about this?” Please know that the answer will always be, “Yes.” I plan to prove that to you. I plan to show you that I will never give up on you. I’m going to tell you, “Yes, you can,” when you say that you can’t. I’m going to expect you to do all the things I know you can…and that is everything your white counterpart does. Yes, it might be harder for you, and it might take longer. Yes, you didn’t come to me with the same advantages and background knowledge that those suburban boys did, but we can overcome that if you just trust me. I understand. I need to earn that trust. I promise I will try to make you believe in me…and, most importantly, in you. With that being said, just know I am expecting a decent “shout out” at your acceptance speech for the presidential nomination – after the one to your mother, of course.

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