how to be black

Be born into a world that wishes you weren’t
Be held by parents whose excitement is punctuated by fear.

Go to school eager to learn and so excited you can’t keep your mouth shut
Get called disruptive and distracting
Learn to be quiet and submissive
Go to school less eager…less excited

Try not to be hurt when you’re complimented on how “eloquent” you are
On how you’re “cute for a black girl”
On how you’re “like an Oreo”

Be told you’re “the smartest black person [she] knows”
Learn to just accept the “compliment”

Never be taught your history
Teach it to yourself
Discover how much they left out

Get a little older
A little harder
Start fighting again

Set some goals
Make some progress

Forget the way of the world
Start to believe, for just a moment, things are getting better

Get called a nigger
For the first time in a long time
Try not to let it derail you

Let it derail you

Get told that Lil Wayne says it
That Chance says it
Big Sean
Drake

Get asked “why can’t I”

Grow weary of the way of the world
Lay down
Rest

Get back up and fight again
Be disruptive and distracting
Get told “I’m on your side”

Find out that they are not

Dread meeting their parents
Wait for the comments
Have your perception of who they are shift and shatter
Start to question if you ever even knew them

Keep to yourself for awhile
Leave for a minute

Come back

Try and make jokes
Laughter as medicine

Laugh

Laugh

Laugh

Call your mom
Ask her how she does it
Go to bed exhausted

Say goodbye to Trayvon

Freddie

Walter

Michael

Kendra

Sandra

Alton

Philando

Tamir

Kalief

Wake up and realize how long the list is
Watch as another name is added

And another

And another

Cry because you’re sad
Cry because you’re angry
Cry because you’re scared

Pray that you’re not next

Watch white people take credit for the work of your brothers and sisters
Watch brands send “on fleek” email campaigns
Watch craft beer companies tell you it’s ‘lit’

Get priced out of the neighborhood

Find a community
Think that it’s all coming together
Talk about your experience
Listen as you’re called divisive

Be expected to cheer for Lena Dunham

Taylor Swift

Emma Watson

Amy Schumer

 

Don’t

 

Get told to make your own stuff

Make your own stuff

Get asked why all your stuff is so black

Try to support other POC’s stuff
Feel conflicted when you dislike it
Wonder if your critique of their work is damaging and “problematic”
Wonder if you should support it anyway
Tell yourself you don’t have to like work just because it is made by a person of color
Resolve yourself to always feeling like you should

Get older still
Fight harder

Keep fighting

Be tired
Be so tired

Keep going

And going

Continue being born into a world that wishes you weren’t

Be so glad that you are

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