How Do I Read These Headlines?

How do I read these headlines

in my skin,

and stay ‘neutral’?

How, and still deny? How, and still absolve?

How do I view the photos of all these

grim atrocities done to black bodies

posted by the demons who did them,

and say “It has no part in me?”

How do I stand for an anthem that

proudly hails

killing my ancestors?

How can I ignore

the flag of a heritage of hate?

Avert your eyes, if it pleases,

and veil yourselves behind the

tresses of your hair,

put the lie in your lungs and give it breath,

and point your fingers at me,

who did nothing at all,

if it comforts you.

But the blood cries out from the soil,

and the photos so freely, bravely displayed

(and sold as postcards) have not faded.

The blackface figurines and sack dolls

still abide in the curiosity and antique shops,

and the mass, unmarked graves

are not unseen.

Nor are the ones who put the

black bodies in there.

I read these headlines,

but I’ve seen them play out too,

and the play doesn’t seem to end.

So friend, if that is what you (say you) truly are to me,

don’t ask me to separate myself, and deny, and say

I’m not at risk.

At any given moment,

on any given day,

someone can lash out

at me because of my color, and

tomorrow could very well be

my last day in this world.

But keep your eyes averted,

and yell louder,

peeking through your fingers as

I turn into a headline.