Why is my hood more intimidating than your hood when your hood was the first hood meant to intimidate people from my hood? And to this very day you still come into my hood. Physically, you removed your hood but when the feelings are so deep in your heart you can't remove your hood. So now when you come into my hood, I feel like I have to put on a hood and pretend to be hood when I'm the farthest from hood. Even with my degrees and three piece suit you still see me in the hood wearing a hood and I don't even wear a hood and you still won't let me pull off that hood. Then, I understand it ain't about a hood because my beautiful black skin is the hood!
So I was born, April 21st 1971, already wearing a hood. But if you will allow me I'll tell you who is under my hood, what is under my hood, and why it's under my hood. Disappointment, sadness, and anger they’re under my hood. Raging screams that gradually become silent screams on the inside because I’ve become numb to the pain from the outside is under my hood. There can only be so many how comes, there can only be so many lonely nights when I cry because I learned all them tears they’re going to run dry and that’s when I look up to the sky and ask God, “Why is all this under my hood?” But then I remember what they did to your son that wore a hood. And if they can do that to him, I don’t stand a chance under my hood. Sometimes I feel like I’m carrying that blood soaked wood under my hood, sometimes I wonder how can the sun shine so bright and at the same time it's dark as night under my hood. Sometimes I feel lost and my spirit is outlined in chalk under my hood. But then, that’s when I hear my ancestors start giving me that love talk under my hood, letting me know that I will never be alone on this walk under my hood. So I pick up my chin and straighten my back under my hood. I think about their journey of survival, how can I not be proud to be black under my hood. You see I know where I come from under my hood. I know running through my veins I have that Mayflower bloodline under my hood. In the bows of the slave ship rowing type of grind is under my hood. I don't know where I'm going but like my ancestors I’m going to keep rowing and rowing and rowing type of mind is under my hood and 400 years later my ancestor’s wildest dreams live under my hood. I just need a chance under my hood and because of what they went through I promise you I'll make good under my hood. And that southern tree, I’ll chop it down and make it firewood under my hood. I know it's just one tree but it’s one less tree that won't bare strange fruit that looks like me and in that moment I feel free under my hood.
A big beautiful smile and an uncontrollable laughter is under my hood because in my utopia I can be me under my hood. A grandfather, a grandson, and a son is under my hood. A big brother, an uncle, and a nephew is under my hood. A best friend who lost his 3 best friends in one year, who still sometimes wonder why did they leave me here is under my hood. A father dreaming of walking his beautiful daughter down the isle is under my hood. A father afraid that his son might not get to see his beautiful bride of the future walk down that same isle is under my hood because someone might think he shouldn’t be wearing a hood. So to keep him out of that public enemy scoop, I tell him “Son don’t wear that hood.” He looks at me with that same big beautiful smile and says, “Dad what’s the problem, it’s just a hood.” I am like, “Son I’m begging you not to wear that hood.” He’s like, “Dad chill it’s just a hood.” With a broken heart I’m like, “Yea, I wish it was just a hood but it ain’t just a hood because Trayvon Martin changed that for good.” I bet his mother ask herself a million times a day, why did he wear that hood? “Son, I don’t want to ask myself a million times a day, why did he wear that hood?” “So I’m begging you, please don’t wear that hood!” Crazy right, but these are the type of conversations that take place under my hood.
A scared 18 year old kid in a foxhole fighting in Desert Storm is under my hood. A rookie police officer going to the funeral of one of his fallen brethren is under my hood. A nervous 17 year old little girl about to give birth to a baby boy is under my hood. That same nervous little girl is now a nervous grown woman and she's afraid but she prays that you can see the beautiful black boy she raised is under my hood. "If you love me today I’ll change the world tomorrow" is under my hood. I'm a God fearing man under my hood and for that reason alone you have no reason to fear this man under my hood. I believe in humanity and so we're all one under my hood. "When we love each other the world wins” is how I feel under my hood. Yea, I guess you figured it out by now, a 46 year old work in progress lives under my hood. I’m just tired of being invisible under my hood and now hope you can see me under my hood. And if you look hard enough and if your heart is soft enough you might even see you under my hood…
Coleman G. Howard