My Mother’s Dreams for Her Son, and All Black Children

Hilton Als at The New Yorker:

As a boy in Brownsville and in Bed-Stuy, I was tormented by the question of protection, because, of course, I, too, wanted to be protected. Like any number of black boys in those neighborhoods, I grew up in a matrilineal society, where I had been taught the power—the necessity—of silence. But how could you not cry out when you couldn’t save your mother because you couldn’t defend yourself? Although I had this in common with other guys, something separated me from them when it came to joining those demonstrations, to leaping in the air when black bodies were threatened. My distance had to do with my queerness. The guys who took the chance to protect their families and themselves were the same guys who called me “faggot.”

For a while, I thought their looting and carrying on had to do with enacting a particular form of masculinity: if white men and cops could wreak havoc in the world, why couldn’t they?

more here.