Thursday, May 08, 2014

After Career Day

Odd Jobs

The absence of young men was palpable. 
I found myself torn between insult and interest
considered if I lived in a world where the arts was women's work.
Wondered if I'd slid off the world.
I learned later that eighth grade boys 
were guided into the careers they are already living
those missiles in a world that might ignite 
or disarm them.

As I move through to seventh grade the testosterone 
roamed the halls, rushed for seats to sit next to pretty girls.
Rambunctious bodies too fast for their feet.
Seems they have a year before they would be told 
about the job that picked them simply because they breathe.

I asked my eighth grader about the speakers chosen for him. 
The scientist, the psychologist, the police.
I wondered if they were asked the same questions.
I asked my son if they were asked the same questions.
The scientist was asked the same questions.
Not the psychologist. Not the police.

They instead gave advice on how not to look 
suspicious while being young, black and male.

When stopped by the police you don't ...
Never IF you are stopped.
Young black men have a tendency ...
Not SOME black men.
Avert your eyes when ...
Don't want to be seen as threatening.
Keep your hands visible...
Don't get hungry or thirsty or listen
to your favorite songs too loud.

He never got to ask the questions about the things he loves the most. 
Doesn't know more about the classes to take to be a programmer. 
How many different fields there are and the possibilities 
out there waiting for him so he can live his dream.

He believes it was helpful.
Believes if he is ever stopped by the police
(thank God he didn't say when)
he will not be shot.
Believes the tips from the psychologist 
will help him appear less threatening.

I believe that this world is afraid of his potential
wants him thinking how not to appear criminal
when statistics show pigment will do that for him.

My silence scares him.
Are you mad?
A question I can answer.
I am not mad, I am concerned.
Don't worry mom, he tells me through the phone.
I have an hour before bed he tells me
I'm going to do some more research on programmers 
and if I have time I'm going to write this new idea 
for my book. I think it's almost done.

I breathe a little easier. 
Make sure my feet are no longer floating.
My son is very aware that he is young, black and male.
He knows the world knows it too.
He also knows that living is a job but waiting to be profiled
is not his career.

He's got games to make 
and books to write.