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
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.