Black Boy/Black Teen
by Joshua Granados
When you are born everyone says how cute you are. You have curly hair and big cheeks. Stay cute, stay precious, always lovable. Don’t cry too much, drink your milk, take your naps, eat your food, let them change you. In preschool you are adorable because your cheeks are still big. People pinch your cheeks, and you smile. Let them pinch your cheeks. Your best friend is a little boy named Carlos. He is new to the school and doesn’t speak English. You only speak a little Spanish even though your last name is Granados. Language doesn’t matter. You both understand each other. Make sure you smile even when people pinch your cheeks. Play fair. Share your toys. Always line up next to Carlos so he has a friend. You and Carlos go to different elementary schools. You make new friends. No one pinches your cheeks, but some kids don’t play fair. Shake it off. Let things go. Make sure you smile. Still make sure you share. In middle school your cheeks are smaller. You make some more friends, but no one wants to smile because it’s middle school. Everyone has braces. Your mom still says, “smile.” She says, “you have a great smile.” She also doesn’t want people to judge you. You can’t wear a hoodie. You can’t go jogging late at night. People think you are older than you are. Smile so you look younger. It will keep you safe. In high school you don’t have big cheeks at all. You go to a school with no one from your middle school. You make new friends. Sometimes people follow you and your friends around in stores. Security looks at you. Leave your bag at the front of the store. Never wear your hoodie even if it is raining. Say, “yes sir” if a police officer asks you questions. If they say you fit the description, ask if you can call your parents. Tell them your uncle is an LAPD officer. Try to read badge numbers. Remember the names on the badges. Don’t be obvious. Keep your hands where they can be seen. Speak clearly. Keep saying, “Yes sir.” Remember your parents phone numbers. Ask if you can call your mom. Wear your school uniform so everyone in the area knows you are a student. Smile even if you don’t want to. Stay safe. Stay alive.