Little did I realize that as a boy, I was being passed an invisible baton at different stages of my life that would grow to become what I hope will one day be my legacy.
My early memories of how it was passed to me revolve around my mother. She loved education, reading, and especially the power of the written and spoken word. I recall in her hands Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son.”
She read and recited it to me. As I matured, I realized that this “baton” represented the resilience that I would need to persevere when the trials and tribulations of being Black and male would appear.
My parents, family elders, concerned neighbors, fictive kin, loving teachers, and “OG’s” passed a baton regularly as I grew from boy to man in Philly. It was often initiated by the statement, “I see something in you that you don’t see in yourself.” It was the baton of belief. Knowing that others whose opinions mattered thought well of me gave me a standard to uphold.