She was in love with the man made out of sand
But she lived in water, nestled in the waves
Stubborn, she took him for herself, held him close
In seconds, he fell away from her body
Leaving mocking impressions on her skin that said ‘you never had me’…
Frantic now, she gathered as much of him as she could in her hands
But he was gone, seeping through her fingers into a vast ocean
She sat by the shore and mourned for the loss of him, more painful than before.
Words could not save her this time.
There were no paper boats and pen oars to sail her to the safe corners of her mind.
She had inhaled him too deeply,
Until his breath had formed lips in every pore on her skin.
She did not know how to end him
Or where to begin.
Words could not save her.
She had inhaled him too deeply
Until his breath had formed lips in every pore on her skin,
Whispers, hypnotic and polyphonic,
Effects which are soporific.
She closes her eyes and tries to quiet herself
But there are too many voices,
She falls asleep in defense
And woke up seeking a river.
There were no paper boats and pen oars sailing her to the safe corners of her mind.
This journey was different.
She felt the pull of her bloodline, urging, go to the water source.
She let the blue-green currents sweep her away … they said, be reborn.
As her head emerged from the water,
she woke up from the dream,
Remembering the scene, with women cheering Omowale. Omowale. Omowale.
Her true true self is like a flash of prismatic light –
On the edge of glassed minds, illuminating.
Yet she remains invisible, even when bared to naked eyes.
Tired, she folds her faded reality neatly into a corner,
watches the surreal become solid way of life.
Time and time again
They prove that people like her are in vain.
She resigns, surrenders her essence to the dust.
A joyless peace consumes her,
She understands, now, why she was demeaned.
True beauty is external for external beauty is rewarded and seen,
A vanity that is never in vain.
‘White racists are not monsters’.
Perhaps this sounds strange because the word ‘racist’ itself is like a bitter pill. Black people bu are confronted with its dosage: daily, yearly, rarely (if in a predominantly black country); white people get a dash of its flavor in their mouth once its brought to the surface of an individual’s lips in accusation, declaration or through argument. Strong emotions rise, from both, one or several feeling offended and then there is that fleeting moment in the black individual’s mind where he/she might think or wonder:
- I feel so hurt about this, I wish I didn’t have to deal with this, I won’t stand for it (!)
- Did I say too much? Maybe ‘racist’ is too strong of a word to use? Just look at the way everyone’s looking at me like I said unicorns exist and they only eat bananas.
- Maybe it’s all in my head? Then why do I feel this way, see these differences in treatments between myself and so and so?
- Nothing will change, now I’ve gone and added angry/hallucinating black woman/man to the list.
The accused may very well think or wonder:
- I’m being accused of being a racist, am I really one?
- I don’t feel like a racist, what did I do wrong?
- I don’t particularly like black people but racists were white colonizers who injured,abused, raped, lynched black people for no other reason than the color of their skin.
See…that’s the problem. Racism is perceived as an action directed against black people by white people in the past. “These are modern times, ladies and gentlemen!” Yes, which is why it is harder to pinpoint because racism now is subtle, sometimes subconscious ( embodied knowledge).
“Why do you keep bringing up race?” “Stop whining, everything can’t be handed to black people” “How do you explain why there are so many successful black people then?” “There you go playing the race card again” (by the way, if the race card does exist then black people have had a pretty bad run of luck while using it)
QUESTION: why are we so uncomfortable and afraid of talking about race? And what’s wrong with feeling uncomfortable? Talk to your non-white friend and let the icebergs break. Also, why do you assume black people think all white people are enemies when they do speak on race?
Racists are mainly seen as evil soulless people when in fact this is just a generalization that benefits no one. I don’t exactly love the word black people or white people either because it is usually followed by a generalizing statement, but anyways, we have to deal with it because we need those words to give order to written and performed things in society, to bring change…However, racism could be viewed like a treatable disease. ‘Regular people’ can have it, yes, like Josh who volunteers at the pet shelter and then goes home to his lovely wife and kids. Or Catherine who has a black friend but still thinks What do you think? As suggested by a character named Ifemelu in the novel Americanah, maybe the word ‘racist’ should be scrapped so that we can find something new like Racial Disorder Syndrome that can be listed under mild, medium and acute. I wonder what that treatment will consist of. I wonder what category Donald Trump falls into. Or is he just plain ignorant, regurgitating stereotypes that feed on ignorance?
Personally, growing up in the Caribbean which is predominantly black, I haven’t experienced racism (should I say yet?), maybe colourism and/or classism, of course. In the Caribbean I am simply Jamaican but If I travel to America or Canada or England, for example, then I will be perceived as black and/or African-American. But I try to have an open mind and an open heart for all people, regardless of colour. I, like some of you, wish we didn’t have to close our eyes to, tiptoe or stomp past race issues. Will we ever be able to hold conversations without that knowledge of history that makes one bitter, reverential or apologetic? Without that tense rumination of how to go about communicating? To be able to sway the misguided/prejudiced and know people for who they are, not who they are portrayed to be?
I think we can, but it won’t be easy because it requires effort on all sides, a willingness to risk feeling stupid or doubtful or upset, the choice to really look at each other in order to find understanding, true friendship, and a deep, powerful love. Will you try?