As I wrote a couple weeks ago, The Wife Person and I are expecting. A child. An actual human baby. An actual human baby we will have to actually parent. In anticipation of this actual human baby we will have to actually parent, we've had a few conversations about the type of parents we anticipate being. With topics ranging from "disciplinary styles" to "Is it morally acceptable to tell your child they allow you to ride actual greyhounds at the Greyhound station just because you think it would be funny to have a five-year-old who believes they allow people to ride greyhounds at the Greyhound station?"
No topic, however, is as important as the type of media, literature, and popular culture we plan to expose this human baby to. Because we plan to raise a Black-ass child. So Black, in fact, that The Wife Person has asked me to compile a list of Black-ass books and albums and movies and shit to expose this child to. It hasn't been completed yet — it's living and breathing and shit so it probably never will be — but this is what I have so far.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Still haven't decided if we're going make this The Black-ass Baby Person's first birthday present or if we're just going to leave random passages from it on post-its and napkins and mirrors other random items around the house. I'm inching towards the latter, because how awesome will it be for a two-year-old to have…
"Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye."
…spray painted on his crib?
What's Going On by Marvin Gaye
Just to get a head start, I've already started humming the chorus to "Inner City Blues" on The Wife Person's stomach every Wednesday night.
August Wilson's Century Cycle
Because you can not get any more beautifully and unambiguously Black than the Century Cycle. In totality, those plays might be the Blackest thing anyone has ever created. bell hooks playing spades and eating BBQ sunflower seeds with Marcus Garvey in Monrovia would not be Blacker than the Century Cycle.
If this truly is going to be a Black-ass child, it needs to learn at an early age that regardless of the seriousness of the circumstance, taking a random break from it all to perform a choreographed song and dance with 30 of your closest friends is never not appropriate.
The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel
In order to survive in America, The Black-ass Baby Person needs to learn how to be resourceful. And to learn how to laugh. Which is why Nissel's chapter about having nothing to eat in her apartment except for a single grit (Yes. A single grit. Not box of grits. Or helping of grits. A single grit.) will be what I choose to read the three-month-old Black-ass Baby Person to sleep.
The first season of In Living Color
If The Black-ass Baby Person is going to learn about White privilege, is there a better teaching tool than having him binge watch the entire first season of this show on his third birthday, and then telling him the guy who played Fire Marshall Bill became the biggest star?
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
I can't imagine how proud I'll be when The Black-ass Baby Person's first words will be "It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”
The Color Purple
Because it can never be too early to teach The Black-ass Baby Person to never trust grown-ass Black men with no facial hair.
Live in New Orleans by Maze
The whole purpose of this list is to prepare The Black-ass Baby Person for life. And what better way than to indoctrinate him with the album that produced "Before I Let Go" — the song he'll undoubtedly hear at every Black-ass cookout, birthday party, wedding, baby shower, cabaret, Delta boat ride, Delta potluck, Delta turkey wing eating contest and mouth gout fundraiser, funeral afterparty, pool party where no one actually gets in the water, game night, and spades night he'll ever attend in his Black-ass life?
Coming to America
We plan for the Black-ass Baby Person to be awesome as well. And what's more awesome than a two-year-old stomping his feet, slamming a toy, and shouting "Sexy Chocolate!" every time he takes a shit?