“An Open Letter to my Boyfriend” by T-Agé Anadi
In an open letter to her boyfriend, T-Agé Anadi illustrates the worry that comes along with loving a black man in America. In wake of the unjust passings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, she vows to protect and honor her man despite the nation’s misconstrued opinion.
Early this morning I found myself embraced between your arms, breathing heavily into your chest. Listening to your heartbeat, comforted by the steady thump, I thanked the Universe, God–who ever it is that is responsible for your life. You kissed my forehead sweetly and whispered, “I’m not going anywhere.” You’ve always been so intuitive and reassuring, blanketing me in your protection. That’s one of the reasons I first fell in love with you. But in this love I feel heartbreak. My adoration for you is tinged with fear and worry. Who is going to protect my protector?
It was only a few hours ago, 9:30pm the night before, that I rested my head in your lap. You heard me say, “Stay, please,” but didn’t see my glassy eyes looking inwardly for strength. I now see it as my duty to become your protector; to keep you out of harm’s way and fight out against your oppressors. If that means lying across your legs in defiance of your decision to go for a post-dinner jog, than so be it. I know running has always been your way of clearing your head and finding a sanction from tension but what happens when all that tension lives right beyond our front door? I’m sorry babe, but I couldn’t allow you to run last night. Not with what I saw yesterday. It was too dark and you were wearing black sweatpants. Like I said, I have taken on the role as protector, and I couldn’t have you running while black. Not in our predominantly white, gentrified neighborhood. Our men have been slaughtered for a lot less. I called you foolish for even thinking you can guarantee your return home. I slammed your outlook on your own perspective of life. “On his way back from the grocery store, a black father was murdered in front of his four year old daughter and girlfriend,” I reminded you. “I’m sure he thought he was guaranteed to make it home too,” I say, feeling both wretched and irate. Annoyed with what I saw as your ignorance to facts, images of Trayvon, Alton, Freddie, Tamir, and Eric flashed in my mind.
Every day, as a black man, you are made to believe that your life doesn’t matter; that you are less than and worthless. And as if you needed another weight on your shoulders, here I am before you, reminding you of the casualties of the unjust social structures put in place to keep you down. You know this. You know a lot of things; more than what they want you to know and more than what they force the world to believe you don’t. In a place you should call home you are the unwanted guest, forced to tip toe around the place that you built. The foundation of this land was carried on the backs on your father’s father and sown by those before him. But they don’t recognize your importance.
Call me selfish, but I don’t want to give you up to the media. You’re mine to love. Not a treat for their ravenous, uncontrollable appetite for blood and flesh. I’m scared. Scared that your likeness will be condensed to a two-minute viral video on the Internet. Scared that they will only know you by the bullets in your back. I refuse to have you consumed. I refuse.
Where I see love tangled in your coarse hair and speckled on your brown skin, they see intimidation. Beautiful in your ways, yet you are the most feared and misunderstood creature on this planet. The first day we met I told you there is nothing on Earth mightier than the black man, and today, more than ever I believe that. I don’t tell you enough but you are worthy. You are worthy of life, of normalcy, of your freedoms. And when no one else will protect you, I will. I love you too much to have your legacy reduced to a mass protest and a trending topic on Twitter. I’ll say it again, I love you.
I’m here for you.
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