I Try to Remember Hope by tv.writes



I remember when we found out I was pregnant in October 2014. Like many other parents, my husband and I dreamed about what our kids would look like. We wondered if they would have my cinnamon-cocoa complexion or his semi-tanned fair one. We wondered if my mother’s beautiful ebony skin that skipped me would kiss our child’s. If they would have flowing straight hair or poofy, strong-willed kinks and coils like me. We knew we’d get those awkward questions as an interracial couple. We knew we’d get those backhanded compliments about the looseness of their strands or the fairness of their skin. But we chose not to lean into fear and anxiety. We prepared to love the God-given image our child bore regardless of the world’s thoughts or opinions.




Photo: Phil Porto of The Portos


After the death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 and then the death of Tamir Rice in November 2014, a few months after I found out I was pregnant, I started having graphic nightmares. They only worsened after the Charleston Church Massacre. Around this time, I admittedly started leaning into fear and anxiety. I watched every shooting video and commented on every insensitive remark made. I read every article as they appeared. I felt like I was beating at the wind. Eventually, my husband and a mentor suggested taking a break from social media. This hiatus lasted almost two and a half years. I felt like as a social worker; I should have been able to “fight the good fight.” I should’ve been able to handle the constant advocacy and stand strong during all the tension our country was experiencing. The tension our country is still experiencing. What I did not realize in 2016, was that I had moved so far away from hope for racial reconciliation and justice. I was angry, bitter, resentful, and exhausted. I failed to recognize how badly my mental health suffered from the secondary trauma of ingesting so much death and toxic hate.




“It angered me- all of it. I felt shame as a follower of Christ for feeling as dark as I did inside. But how could I ignore the evidence, data, or footage? How do you balance vocal advocacy and silent, tearful prayers in your bedroom? How does one hold both disgust with the state of the world and hope for its renewal in one fragile human heart? ”


In 2016, I began asking questions like: “If we have another child and their skin color is darker than their sister’s own, would they be taken from me too?” “If we had a son who looked more like me, would he be stereotyped and murdered?” As many of my friends and some family members began planning and preparing for their second child, I was frozen for so many reasons. I hated that this was one of them. I hated admitting this to my husband, who wanted more children at the time. I hated thinking that our fairer complected daughter would one day wrestle with what seems to be a privilege in our world: Being void of observable brown/black melanin. I couldn’t find the words to explain it to my Caucasian loved ones. So I kept it all inside, shooting after shooting. I knew I had a diverse support system with whom I could lament. But I could never seem to find the right moment to bring up such a heavy subject. So I never did. It angered me- all of it. I felt shame as a follower of Christ for feeling as dark as I did inside. But how could I ignore the evidence, data, or footage? How do you balance vocal advocacy and silent, tearful prayers in your bedroom? How does one hold both disgust with the state of the world and hope for its renewal in one fragile human heart? Trying to find that balance wore me out, and the questions continued to well up in my heart and my poetry. “Would I lose a child because they favored me?” “Would my son be shot while playing in a friend’s neighborhood?” For worshipping in a church? For bumping music a little too loudly in the car with friends? All of a sudden, this world seemed to rob me of a God-given joy. The joy of planning to have a child. A sun-kissed, curly-headed boy or girl. Because of my Afro-Latina ancestry. Because of my beautifully inherited complexion.


Photo: Phil Porto of The Portos



Photo: Phil Porto of The Portos



“A Letter to the Mothers of Children Slain” by tv.writes


I have not experienced much loss in my life. So this poem, an open letter to the mothers of children slain, was written solely out of heart-wrenching nightmares and empathy. I cannot imagine what it would be like losing a child in such a violent way. I cannot fathom having to watch it over and over again during an investigation. Knowing your neighbors and complete strangers around the world are now rewatching one of your worst nightmares as a parent.


So instead of watching Ahmaud Arbery’s last breath. Instead of watching another video. I cry. I pray. I advocate. I rise and wake again, doing my best to remember hope. When I feel despair, I surround myself with those who will remind me to “fear not and be courageous.” I have those hard conversations and ask the difficult questions of colleagues and allies. I send the hope I do have to Wanda Arbery and every other parent who has lost a child due to egregious violence.


I write poetry and remind the world: We are tired and fed up. We want to be hopeful. We want to have joy. We want to plan for full and vibrant families. We want to have beautiful, healthy babies. We want to hold our children and friend’s children. We want peace for our fellow image-bearers. We want to see our neighbors, church members, co-workers, cousins, nephews, nieces, friends, lovers, and spouses grow up and grow old.


Written by: tv.writes

You may find this piece and others written by the author at www.tvwrites.com


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