I am not to be Thoreau on Walden Lake- The lonely and deserted bystander, Who looks up for stars to twinkle awake; Feels the flourishing of four seasons , Or sometimes simply observes the ant nests in wonder. I am myself! Let me, in and out of the water, be a free wand’rer; And a joyful music maker. I may hide in the emerald lake bottom, Where the setting sun explores not my ponder.
I wrote this when Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead while jogging in Georgia, but before George Floyd, and all the protests started. I wrote it and kept it to myself, because I didn’t feel safe posting this truth. Now that the conversation had started, I thought I’d share. It’s called, “What I’d Like My White Friends to Know.”
What I’d Like My White Friends to Know
I woke up Black and Angry this morning, again It’s becoming a pattern I wake up, grab my phone, read a story in the news M***f***s shot him while he was just jogging down the street I rant online for 10 – 15 min about how my life matters, how our lives matter It’s out of my system, enough so, that I can now get out of the bed And make my damn morning tea with soy milk What I’d like my white friends to know Is that it is deeply degrading and humiliating to regularly have to beg for your life I’m angry all the time Just because we were born with brown skin It means we must, politely, ask you to stop killing us As we walk down the street Play in our yards Or even sleep in our own beds Most of my friends are white, and I married a white woman My wife knows, and so does my therapist But do you know, that I don’t feel safe in this country That after being followed around a store Or mistreated by a medical professional who thinks that I’m just there to get drugs That sometimes I just cry I just cry Because it’s a Thursday, and I woke up black in America With you, I mostly joke around and play the race card when it suits me But behind the sarcasm is a deep wound I’d like my white friends to know That sometimes I wonder if you do anything more Then post a sad face emoji or share a story that enrages you online If you’d do anything at all, in the real world, to undermine your own privilege If this prose will make you mad and defensive, uncomfortable So you’ll just shut down and move on, which is your privilege I am mad all the time, which can be dangerous for black folks And I just hold it in, as my burden to bear most days I’d like my white friends to know, that this is how we survive By swallowing pain and anger, so we can get through the day Your sad emoji feels like “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting When I’d rather see you counter protesting The white supremacists on the steps of the state capitol Or the ones inside in the seats of power Fighting for policy change, and prison reform Because you sat comfortably, as they implemented mass incarcerations And you will sit comfortably as the guilty and the innocent Who just could not pay for bail Die in close quarters of COVID-19 I’d like my white friends to know That I’d like you to do better As my friend My beloved community I’m scared And I’d like you to help me My sisters and brothers Because no one seems to hear our cries, or see our tears Not really I’m telling you, that they will listen to your voice If you would only cry out with me I wish you would stop sending thoughts and prayers And help tear this shit to the ground.