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Our L.I.T ( Liberating Individuals Through Literary Texts)
Foundation: Tyre Nicholes 4-Year-Old Son 2023 & My Own Son
Ian Florence @ 7-Year-Old 2013
Poem Written By: Clianda Florence


Oh my life at 4 is so amazing, I’m learning to count 10 or more objects correctly, name at least four colors and three shapes. Recognize some letters and possibly write my name. I’m learning to better understand the concept of time and the order of daily activities, like breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner at night. Taking trips with my dad to the farm, looking at some beautiful pictures he has taken, oh the stories my dad would tell as he glides on his skateboard. Our daddy and son conversations, my mind is a big sponge. My beautiful introduction to the dope world of Literacy ! Nope, not for me anymore. What I just shared was the normal view for me, a 4-year-old Black Boy in America, unfortunately my life has changed forever. I heard my momma crying, saying words over my head, holding me “ they murdered your daddy last night!” What does this word mean and why is it making mamma cry? The dawn breaks, no call from my dad, I just see G-Ma and Pop-Pop as they hug me, holding me saying the words mommy said “but you have his face we have to keep you safe.” Learning to recognize my name is developmentally what I should be learning to do. How many of you first recognized your name in a Newspaper Article describing the slaying of your father , or in an Obituary? Yep, my love letter to literacy began at the welcome mat of murder, the untimely death of my father came at the hands of People who took an oath to serve and protect us. Who takes an oath to protect us from them? I was 7 when my mom ran into my room, I heard her crying, her tears falling on my face. “Wake up, Good Morning! I have some news to share, your father was murdered last night in the doorway of his home.” Frozen in time, words slowly filling my mind, this is not a good morning! Again frozen in time and space, my awareness of vocabulary is vast because I know several thousand words. But, on that November morning I wish I was void. Void of what you ask, knowing and being able to understand the message my mother was sending and the ability to describe how things relate to one another. Wait, how many other people can relate to me, a 7 year-old Black Boy whose father was murdered at the hands of people he once knew? Leaving me to recognize my name in the Newspaper, on the News, and last but not least in the Obituary? Can you relate to our nightmare? Was this an integral part of your introduction to literacy? Okay, shake it off, I have to put my game face on, step into my Second Grade classroom and focus on the lessons. But, my Dad was just murdered, how do I really feel? Will anyone even care? How can I begin to relate to what we are learning when someone so precious was stolen from me? Is this our fate, the fate for most Black Little Boys’ and Men? I remember someone once saying “ your mind is like a bed, you have to make it up everyday, be careful who you let in.” Who is going to protect us from them? We are only 7 & 4 , this should not be our Rite of Passage! This should not be our introduction to the wonderful world of literacy. Woefully, as Black Boys we have to grow up faster and suffer in silence because of societal norms , Ian 2013 and me 2023. Many other Black Boys have traveled down our road like Emmit Till and Trevon Martin. Sadly, many others will travel down the same road, eyes filled with tears. Come on Ian, let’s go play on the Playground!

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