Kobe, Covid, George Floyd and everything in between...
My two sons and I were riding the New York Subway last week. In the midst of sharing anti-bacterial gel every 10 minutes as we navigated toward Times Square, even through his mask, my 10 year olds question rang into my ear drum like the loud, unmistakable screeching of brakes from the subway car we rode. "Daddy, Kobe passed away, then the covid thing and quarantine, then this guy George Floyd gets murdered...What's Next?" His glaring stare pierced my soul as I mourned the fact that I did not have an answer.
"What's Next?", I repeated aloud, as if I turned my son's inquiry over to the cosmos for an answer. "That's a good question, son." I paused. Then when I responded with meager honesty. "I don't know. I guess we've got to be ready for anything!"
The most haunting revelation that hit me like a ton of bricks was the even more pressing question that my 10 year old prompted. "What's Next?" led me to "How do I keep my boys safe in this bizarre world we find ourselves in?"
I continued to process our conversation while the boys and I made our way through the ghost-townish area that is known as Times Square. The billboards were lit up as usual but the flock of travelers that would fill this landmark were gone. Even though businesses were slowly opening around the area, it all felt strange and eerie. There were a few tourists, citizens and police peppered which helped it from being completely deserted and then I saw them. On the main marque, the focal point of New York's Times Square were 3 digital billboards one stacked a top the other, all with the uniform words, "Black Lives Matter". In that moment I felt years of seeming angst, strife, and collective suppression of my ancestors let out a sigh. Just the recognition, the acknowledgement that we as Black people did in fact matter, lifted my confusion in answering my son's question from minutes before.
During this time of unrest and upheaval the structures that many have believed would stand the test of time are shaking and shifting. Who knew I'd find myself in 2020 with my two boys in an empty Times Square amidst the inhuman murder of George Floyd and a global pandemic. I imagine you have and will feel a range of emotions during this time. I, as with myself, invite you to fully feel those emotions. And perhaps, not jumping to answering questions like my son asked me that when, I'm truly honest with myself, confess I just don't have the answer to as of yet. I'm just navigating through all this day to day and just as I snapped this photo of my sons and I in New York, it was an opportunity to note that history is in the making and I can be kind and gentle with myself as I sort through it all.