i love the little boys

…even when they try to rob me, I love little boys; Standing on any corner in any hood in any city in the world, the little boys go about their business dreaming and scheming, bending and pretending. One late afternoon I stood on a corner waiting for a taxi to take me to the airport. The city had a busy buzz as cars, trucks and buses zipped by. I had my luggage and a laptop bag where I kept my wallet and keys. I decided to open my bag and within moments of going into the bag to take a few dollars from my wallet it was as if little boys suddenly appeared from nowhere. There they were. Six of them, no more than 12-14 years old, swarming around me; In and out. It dawned on me that my little boys saw me flash my cash and they were going to try to rob me. Calculating their moves, silently figuring out who would grab what, and in which direction they would flee. How quickly would they snatch my money, my wallet, laptop, or all of it, and get out of sight? But I saw them, and I looked in their shiny faces with a stern and hopeful expectation. I see You. I wanted them to see me seeing them. And with a look, they fled and ran the other way. Humanity acknowledged. Plan foiled.

Seeing and reflecting something hopeful. Black history month is upon us again, and it’s a month when boys and girls, men and women see and hear more positive and affirming images and stories of Black Americans than all year long. Really, the rest of the year is bleak. The images black kids consistently see of black people in the media remain narrow, limiting, and even harmful to their psyches and overall development. Thugs, thieves, drug addicts, athletes, rappers.

Young people project as far as they can see and require good mirrors that reflect back to them what they can become. Models, images, reflections matter. Until the full complex range of limitless possibilities are presented to my little boys, some of them will continue believing the lie that their lot in life is to steal, kill and destroy. It is not. I for one will reflect something better back to them. Their humanity and boundless beauty created in the same image as God cuz God loves the little boys too.

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About Calenthia Dowdy

Calenthia Dowdy (PhD, American University) is a cultural anthropologist and youth ministry educator who focuses on urban youth and culture in the U.S. and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Alongside teaching, speaking and writing on youth, cities, race, gender, and faith, she serves as the director of faith initiatives at a comprehensive community health center that specializes in HIV/AIDS care