My nephew has a friend who he really adores. This past weekend she stayed over with us. It was a joy. Her mother needed a break after she (the daughter) decided to call 911 because she “needed a friend.” My sister thought that I could use my social work skills to talk to her. The little girl is going through a lot– her mother has cancer and she is scared. This time away was good for both of them.
So, my nephew was so happy to have her around that every now and again he would put his arms around her to give her a hug ( this happens every time she visits). Here is a conversation that occurred one of the times he placed his arm around her:
K: “S, why do you keep hugging me, S?”
S: ” Because I love you, K. I love you”
It was that simple: he loved her and he wanted to show it. I looked at the two of them and thought to myself that I hope that he continues to communicate his feelings openly and freely. That even when society tells him that he should hide who he is, or how he is suppose to feel, that he will express it without feeling afraid to. I hope he knows that boys do cry and that it is okay to cry.
I read an article on The Root about the black male bravado and “the pain that is beneath the swagger.” So, let me say this before I continue: Yes, I am a woman and I may not understand everything about being a man but I believe that we often do not give men the room to be human based on societal expectations. Being an aunt of 3 year-old boy, I hope that we can create a space for dialog for this issue and then change it.