It’s important for me to write this. It’s important to me that you know that I haven’t forgotten about you in my journey into Black womanhood. You’re not a Black woman, which makes this harder to write—harder to understand, even. But you’ve had a lifetime of knowing Black women. And you choose to love us. I don’t know if you know how important that is. I don’t know if I know how important that is.
You always answer your mother’s calls with a “Hey, ma”. Your voice softens when you speak to her. It’s a softness held for only her, so different from your usual, reserved, measured way of speaking. You listen quietly and patiently. You are there when she needs you to talk, to fix, or even to take out the trash. There is both a gentleness and strength to your love for Grandma. Is it as complicated as it seems to be a Black man and love the way you do—to allow a softness in your voice, but a strength in your spirit? To be gentle in your care, but to also be a source of strength that demands an unwavering conviction that everything will be alright. I know you worry about things that are out of your control. I know you think often about your mother and your sister. I know that you manage the worry that you try to mask, the softness that you allow, the strength that is required of you to be able to love. In a world that says that Black men like you don’t have the capacity or willingness to love, you prove that they do.
You were 19 when you met my mother. You were the same age as I am now. I don’t know how you did it. Do you think you knew what God was preparing you two to build when you took her to the movies that night? It’s important for me to write about the love you have for my mother. Did you realize all that you were teaching me about love as you built this marriage? I’ve seen your love for my mother, and it doesn’t always look like the movies. It doesn’t always look like roses in the morning and public declarations of love in the rain. It looks like coming home in a goofy mood, singing and dancing to make her laugh. It looks like spending over half of your life with your soul mate and opening your home to her family— a family that, in turn, became yours. You set the bar for what being in love with a Black woman looks like—laughter, consistency, and support. In a world that so often tells me that this kind of love is not for us, you’ve shown me otherwise.
The first time a boy told me he loved me was not the first time I had heard those words. I wasn’t quick to believe him because you’ve shown me that love is about action first. I didn’t feel compelled to give him my everything because you’ve shown me that I don’t owe anyone anything for loving me. You’ve told me that I deserve to be loved. The first time a boy told me I was pretty, it was nice, but it didn’t change my world. I didn’t need him to tell me I was pretty because you had been telling me that I was beautiful all my life. I sometimes wonder who I would have been without you. In the moments that I may have forgotten that I deserved to be loved or that I was beautiful, you were quick to remind me that I was “your princess” always. What other man in my life would do that? What other Black man in my life would do that? In a world that so often fails to see me and love me, you always have. Thank you.
Your Little Princess