Category: racism

New school racism cloaked as old school roots

Remember sitting at the cafeteria table and one person would leap up announcing that they had a joke to share. That person might have said something along the lines of “you’ll get a kick out of this” and “you guys,this is hilarious” while following with a rebuttal that they in fact are not racist.

We sat side by side in many classrooms; homeroom, math and biology. I looked at you with my eyebrows tightened. In one minute, I would have to decide whether or not I would look past your “indiscretions” or retaliate that I was anything but amused. The jokes ranged from how we never saw black guys in the dark but when they smiled we saw their flashlight teeth. There were jokes that said the lawnmower crooned “run n**** run n*****” and each time you told it people slapped their knees how funny it was. Outnumbered and alone, I laughed falsely not because I wanted to. The need to feel safe lodged a sword in my esophagus and I said nothing then.

Remember tracing the binds of books with your fingers and wondering if there were places where racism did not exist. The quaint bookstore with wire mannequins wearing wool shelves could not be untainted. In fact, men who are indeed average bloat themselves to be larger than life. He stood close and I remember feeling crowded and cornered. Out in the open, my mother side steps closer to his other side because she knows of men like him. The many fathers and mothers with black skin know him too. As the children grow up, prejudices are born alongside of them. As our people give birth, as the doctor pulls out the placenta, out comes the stigmatization that again we must say we have worth.

Blood ran through the streets. Bullets laced the sidewalk. Evidence began to disappear when it was there before. The eyes of witnesses  were plucked out. The eyes of witnesses  silently strained with pain with reddish clouds. 

Before I took a secondary education course, I knew psychology. Children, do not touch the shelves. Do not longingly look at things that are not meant for you and nor should you ever need them. Your worth. Your compassion. Your softness. Your entity. 

Remember the women who wore fabricated ambition, stringing fake pearls above you when they looked down at you. As fast as you run-chasing a life that is pulled away from you, remember who they call fast. “Do you want to know why racism does not matter” they utter yanking you by your hair. “That was a long time ago but it’s over now.” I stood in a house where the water gushed in from every side and seeped through the windows. I stood there hoisting my dress up so I could wade through murky waters but when I did they said I was fast. 

Remember how you thought love could be bought and you tried your hardest to become what everyone wanted and needed. You contorted in all sorts of ways and every night to undo all of it was a chore. Remember sitting in the classroom, and the people who had snares in their mouth too said anyone could say n***a as long as it meant paying an ode to hip hop. Yet, what is an ode if uttered with false pretense that the lash has whipped you. The searing gaze has pushed you into the corner. The red hot stove is a gigantic furnace and you’re handed a tong to keep the fire burning. The pushback when going forward. The stance where both of your fists are up, but you’ve been taught to be the bigger person-so you do not swing but block reverberating blows. The ode to hip hop of I won’t take it anymore, but I must leave where I am now and go where the birds who have trackers hooked to their leg are. I must go where a bird once caged sung, and ask myself too if I carry a tune.

Remember sitting where you are now, and recalling countless times how you gave yourself the short end of the stick. Remember getting up from that good, old, dependable chair and saying “I have waited for peace but now I will claim it for myself. I have waited to be treated right, respectfully, while speaking of past scars. But now I swing with a closed right hook and swiftly fly with my wings over hot coals of fire.”

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Call me classy, the classism

For the royalty is like this,
Some used their words like their fists.
Playing advocate,
That our freedom was illiterate,
As if we…
Don’t tell stories when we do.
And when we do,
Our debts taunt us with what is due.
I sit down on the plush throws,
Hoping I too will grow,
Learning that our lives had meaning,
Perhaps a little seasoning,
To the big pot,
Where the emotionally hungry fought.
This heart of mine is tender,
Eyeing big spenders,
With their jewels and dice,
Forging our lives to make nice.
I come out to seek pride,
Only to be shown where to hide,
To make it to paradise.
For the royalty is like this,
Some packed a punch and called it a kiss.

When the water runs out

When the water runs out,
Barely a drip from the tap,
I will not be pushed into the deserts.

When the dry taste in my mouth has settled,
Like the last days of Summer,
I will not reminisce the water fountains,
Labeled.

When the chalk chatters on the board,
Some students bored,
Regurgitating the same names,
Only noted to warn us,
That our power to fight back can be erased,
I will not think of historical dates.

When the pen runs free,
Quarreling with its writer,
And audience,
I will sit, a pupil sliding a note to my friend,
With my foot.

When the streetlights glow,
A dim overcast on the parked cars,
I’ll jump over fences,
Asking who robbed my heart,
And wished it so.

When the words aren’t quite right,
And a swift jab to the stomach,
A stomp on the hand,
Could say it all…
I will not say that our whole lives could have been different.

When the water runs out,
My tongue will salivate for freedom.
One by one,
The bored children will know.
And the blackboards,
Whiteboards,
Smartboards,
Will be stark and blank.
That, history drove me to the desert,
Against my wish,
The berating sun shone and I did squint,
That this has happened before,
But somehow we all want more.

When the water runs out…
Folks will do what they must to live.

Oppression, never at arm’s length

The older I get, the angrier I am. It’s not just singular things creating chaos in the world. No, in fact,  it is trying to pry things out of people who will never care if certain oppressions do not happen to them. The older I get, the more I wanted to tear at the screen dividing some from really feeling what is in this world. I wanted to cut out the screens in windows and make all around us see the destruction. See how people weep while their blood runs through the street like ominous rain. See how the churches are set ablaze with the hymnal pages incinerated and faith tested. See how the living still call for the dying or ones who have passed on, while clutching at their insides. See how the Black and Brown children hold sadness and anger in their chest, all the while their lips quiver and shout that they are hurting. See how people hold their hands on both sides of their face and go through life, a tunnel vision gaze. See how the uneasiness is questioned. See how the “let us take action” is questioned. See how they are both are housed in each body who has not seen a world without persecution.

Listen,  the children are laughing in their neighborhood and suddenly their laughs turn to terrorized screams. Listen, how the newscasters are standoffish. The news network pride themselves that they have initiated clarity on what “these people” have been through. “Let’s listen for forgiveness.”
Listen closely to our parents retracting their grasp, then suddenly pulling us back, afraid. Listen to how we must emboss our children with what has happened before to know they deserve to be here.

The older I get, the angrier I am at the on/off switch to what is important. The older I get, the angrier I am that “opinions” have been fought for but they have never been mine. The older I get, the angrier I am, that I must be intentional in not being boxed in as a play-thing or that “one black friend.”
The older I get, the angrier I am that my people’s tears are cupped and filtered as we cry through our drought.

The truth will set… a metal trap on your foot

I try to breathe quietly
Keep my breath, faint
As a ghost clinging to such walls
That contain secrets.
I resound quite conspicuously
The things that ail me
Carry my ancestors open sores
Along with their dreams
Some tangible
Some not.
I lay them down at the feet of those
Who must choose to stoop
So we can both do this, together
Looking over things of the past
Eye to eye
With our mouths twisted
How uncomfortable it is to hunch
But one must hunch to pick others up
I concave my chest,  cat – like
Ready to hurl back
For I show those the things that ail me
Aware
They too could do the same
It is a choice
To wound openly
Take the sores and revisit them
Only so they will not close
Heal
I shout in the dark
Bewildered,
Scratching with my claws retracted
I peel paint off walls
Tear up entire furniture
Only to wrestle with the outcome.
I hunch again
To show my trinkets and dignity
I say: “come here and look”
“Look upon this with your own eyes, trace it with your own fingers, our hurt.”
I place the sack over one shoulder,
And smile between my teeth,
That pain is a visitor
Who comes at all hours
Yet some claim to have not seen the frosty breath
Leaving us like smoke.