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Video: How do you raise a black child? A poem by Cortney Lamar Charleston

A poem by Cortney Lamar Charleston — presented as a film directed by Seyi Peter Thomas of Station Film.


From the dead. With pallbearers who are half as young
as their faces suggest and twice the oxen they should be. 
Without a daddy at all, or with a daddy in prison, or at home, 
or in a different home. With a mama. With a grandmama 
if mama ain’t around, maybe even if she is. In a house, or not. 
In the hood. In the suburbs if you’re smart or not afraid of white
fear or even if you are. Taking risks. Scratching lottery tickets. 
Making big bets. On a basketball court. Inside a courtroom. 
Poorly in the ever-pathological court of opinion. On faith. Like 
a prayer from the belly of a whale. In church on Sunday morning, 
on Monday, Tuesday and every other. Before school and after. 
In a school you hope doesn’t fail. In a school of thought named 
for Frederick Douglass. Old school or not at all. With hip-hop or 
without. At least with a little Curtis Mayfield, some Motown, 
sounds by Sam Cooke. Eating that good down-home cooking. 
Putting some wood to their behind. With a switch. With a belt 
to keep their pants high. Not high all the time. On all-time highs
at all times until they learn not to feel and think so lowly of 
their aims. To be six feet tall and not under. With a little elbow 
grease and some duct tape. Sweating bullets. On a short leash. 
Away from the big boys on the block. Away from the boys in blue. 
Without the frill of innocence. From the dead, again. Like a flag.


Running time: 4:30

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How do you raise a Black child? (screenshot)

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