When you have known only Blackness your whole life
As I have
When it has been written on your birth certificate
Celebrated in your home
Taught in your classrooms—
That long history
Marred by half a millennia of
Turmoil and trauma

When it is inked into your skin
Pressed into the faces of your kin
Wrapped around their backs and arms and legs

When it has never known to hide itself
Or shield its richness
Or quiet its voice
Or dim its steady flame,

White spaces become sites of rage

Constant frustration for your sisters and brothers
Whose bodies color these filthy streets like balloons in an empty, endless sky
For the ones displaced and dismembered

For your mothers and fathers
Fading into the cement of their cells
Dissolving into the sidewalks and streets
Crumbling from within their own homes

For your grandmothers and grandfathers
Who bled on these lands
Fed it their songs and dances
Then burrowed themselves
Beneath dry, hard earth to be conjured
By belting voices, big drums and heavy, thumping feet

In response to “Early Memory: The California Zephyr” in The Black Notebook by Toi Dericotte (25-27)

© Ama Akoto (2018)

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