Thursday, June 4, 2020

My Grandson's Songs

My grandson Malik is 4, about to turn 5. Last summer, I heard him singing a song to himself and it was tuneful, well-structured and relevant. He simply did what so many kids do when left alone—sang  a song made up on the spot based on his experience, both as a way of simply expressing what is on his mind and processing it on some level. This particular song was about something he's loved to do since he was two—steal my glasses and glass case from my front pocket. Never tires of that game.

And so he sang: 

"I'm stealing Pop-Pop's glasses just to bring them home.
I'm stealing Pop-Pop's glasses just to bring them home.
Moo-hoo-ha-ha-ha! Moo-hoo-ha-ha-ha.
Moo, Moo, Moo, Moo, Moo-hoo-ha-ha."

To my mind, that is a great 4-year old song, just right for his age and experience.

He made up another song today that my daughter wrote down. Here it is:

“I don’t want to get shot
I don’t want to get beat
I don’t want to get killed
I just want to live.”

Don’t go crazy on me
I just want to live.

I don’t want my life to be so wacky.
I don’t want my life to be so blacky.
I want to paint myself white,
I want to paint myself tan,
I just want to live.

Give me one more chance
Don’t go crazy on me
I just want to live.”

My grandson is mixed-race and through no fault of his own except being connected to a beautiful African ancestry (see Kofi’s words in the last blog post), he now is singing about wanting a chance to live instead of singing about stealing my glasses.  If you’re a white person who still can’t grasp the idea of white privilege, still doesn’t understand what the fuss is about with Black Lives Matter, think that racism is really not an issue anymore, maybe this could be a wake-up call? 

Sit with that a moment. That is the legacy of not only the people who perpetuated hatred and still do, but of the bystanders who are too uncomfortable to take a good hard look at its legacy and see how it has darkened the heart of my grandson who I love and deserves to be loved and certainly deserves to live. What he doesn’t deserve is worrying about whether he will or wanting to paint himself white if that’s what it takes. 

He’s five years old. And he’s done nothing to deserve this. And neither did George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberry and the thousands and millions more deserve what our culture gave them and excused those who committed those barbaric acts.. 

Don’t ask, “What can I do?” Just imagine your son or daughter sang that song and what that would mean to you and figure out how you can help.


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