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Coming-of-Age

A Letter to my Younger Self

At 19, I drove from Michigan to Alabama to begin my second year of college. I wish my older self could have somehow transported a letter through time and left it on top of my enormous booklet of CDs which sat in the passenger seat. My future self would know to place it there; He’d […]

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Awareness Black Power Coming-of-Age Education Personal Essay Self-Care

A Conversation With Truth

I found myself sitting in a confined space, with my knees grasped and pushed my forehead into the tops of my kneecaps. I let my fingers run angrily up and down the sides of my legs as the cadence of my inhale versus my exhale became more staccato in nature. I was burnt out. As […]

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Black Family Coming-of-Age Personal Essay Religion

My Kind of Gospel

Yes, I’ll admit it. I was a choir boy. I was the seven-year-old that would have singing lessons with his grandma that wouldn’t end until I either held my notes longer than her, or practiced my scales to her pleasing. Embarrassingly, I wanted to be in the choir for many years, and when I finally […]

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Black Family Black Lives Matter Coming-of-Age Fatherhood

A Letter to My Father

It wasn’t until we stopped speaking that I realized that we haven’t had a real conversation at any point in life. Sure, there have been talks, but they’ve always been one-sided, and I don’t think either of us realized it. Truth is, I’ve been living in your shadow for so long trying to be just […]

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African Diaspora Coming-of-Age Personal Essay

Just a Citizen of the World

Who am I? Where am I from? I was born in Geneva, Switzerland, but people sometimes give me the look when I tell them I’m Swiss. I was told many times, “Go back home!” “Go back to Africa!” When I heard that, I kept telling them that I was born in Switzerland and therefore my […]

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Black Family Black Women Coming-of-Age

My Mother and Me

One of the best parts of my adult life is the camaraderie I’ve developed with my mother. It’s a fruitful and engaging friendship filled with jokes, laughs, and playful pokes by the two of us. If a couple of weeks go by without us speaking, my phone will ring and “Mommy” will flash. The minute […]

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Coming-of-Age Education Empowerment

Journey to Manhood

At the age of 22, fresh out of college and starting my career, I think about how many young African-American men didn’t have the opportunities I have had or didn’t make it as far as I have at this point their lives. I know many young men who dropped out of school, couldn’t afford school, […]

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¡CUBA VIVA! African Diaspora Caribbean Coming-of-Age Cuba Latin America

¡CUBA VIVA! — Undocumented

This one goes out to all the dreamers, the idealists…the “undocumented.” Undocumented. I always felt the DJ was talking to me when he played songs he knew would “connect” with a certain type of audience. Maybe there were teenagers of my same age all over Havana who felt he was addressing them, too. We were […]

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Black Family Black Teens Coming-of-Age Personal Essay Queer Issues Responsibility Sexuality

What’s the Real Danger Here?

Imagine a 15-year-old black boy sucking dick on a staircase while his mother thought he was at the library. Or a 15-year-old boy going to Pride to have sexual encounters with random men on the street. Or even a 16-year-old boy scared to go to the supermarket out of fear that he might see the […]

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Black Family Black Teens Coming-of-Age Queer Issues Sexuality

Love as a String

2014: A conversation with my father I walked with my father to the store in the rain. “So…” my dad said. “I heard that you were gay.” “I am,” I said as I moved from underneath his umbrella. “Well, you know you are going to hell, right?” I paused, getting drenched in the rain. “And who […]