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In Search of Heroes

By Kristie Robin Johnson

The first Christmas that my son could write, his list for Santa read as follows: a purple wolf, boxing gloves, Power Rangers, and his super powers. When he gave me the list I reviewed it with amazement and a small dose of parental pride.

I had managed to raise a child who, at only three-years-old, likened himself to Jesus Christ or Superman—having enough confidence to believe himself to be a demigod among mere earthlings. Looking at the world through his eyes became my favorite pastime, tethering myself to his unfettered imagination. Flying with him through alternate universes where he can be the world’s richest Pokémon collector and the quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the youngest American Ninja Warrior champion all at once. Inspired by his natural loftiness and ostentatious self-esteem, my dreams became bigger, bolder. For a while he seemed unstoppable. But even Superman had kryptonite. Even Jesus had the cross.

     Something happened around the time he entered third grade. An awakening, an awareness. Like he’d taken a bite of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He came home from school one day lamenting, “I hate my school.” Not “I hate school” but “I hate my school.” Those four words triggered a tsunami of terrible in my brain. Statistics and research-based data began to ticker tape across my conscience: Governments predict the number of prison cells they will need based on third-grade standardized test scores, one in three African-American males will be adjudicated in the criminal justice system at some point in their lives, black boys are viewed as older and therefore less innocent than white boys…my heart palpitated at each thought.



About the Author

Kristie Robin Johnson is an educator, essayist, and poet from Augusta, GA. She is currently enrolled in the MFA Creative Writing program at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA. She is the proud mother of two sons—Robert, 17, and Patrick, 11. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Free Speech, HEArt Online, Rigorous literary magazine, Split Lip Magazine, ESME, and other publications