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Over the weekend, three handsome brown boys sat on the porch with their one girl cousin. They were brown, not a light brown, but shades of deep chocolate browns. While I called them boys they are grown men in their early to mid twenties. They are boys to me.

They are connected to Bae. She’s their aunt and cousin. They looked to her for answers about all things, eager to ask her questions and to engage. I listened to the varying conversations happening, enjoying the different cadences and tones of their voices.

One asked for a peach cobbler. I wasn’t surprised. And later, he called me Auntie Nikki. My heart stopped. I’ve never been an aunt before. And he, unknowingly, used my childhood nickname. He made me feel like a grown up and a kid all at the same time.

They talked about the protests. They received reminders to be safe out there in the streets. They were encouraged to stay around family. Stay around people that look like you and love you.

Monday, I woke up feeling the weight of being black. Social media punched me in the face. The news punched me in the face. My boss wanted to check in. Sucker punch. The founders of my company. The VP’s. The Directors.

There’s no getting away from it.

Then the mental image of these brown boys sitting on the porch filled my head and I broke.

I broke and I don’t know how to put myself back together again.

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