When we are young we learn our colors.
Each color in the rainbow
We learn the sky is blue and the grass is green.
We learn the clouds are white and the dirt is brown.
As we get older,
the word color no longer means the same thing anymore.
It is no longer just a ‘different type of playdoh.’
it is no longer just a ‘different shade of crayon.’
it is no longer ‘a different pair of shoes.’
No longer innocent
My father sat me down when I was eight.
When I was eight.
He told me that last night while I was sleeping
my older brother got arrested.
He was walking home from soccer.
He got stopped by the police.
They asked him why he was out at this hour.
He told them the truth.
He was just going home.
It didn’t help.
The biggest person I knew
Fearless and unbreakable
As he looked down at the ground
a look of despair spread across his face.
I watched as a tear escaped his deep, troubled brown eyes.
“Nothing, son. He did nothing.”
And I could tell by his tone
he meant it.
While my mom went to go get my brother
My father told me,
The first time of what was to be
A million times:
“If you see the police, you empty your pockets
If you see the police, you stay away
If you see the police, and they question you, put your hands up
It’s better to be safe
I knew all too well what he meant by ‘sorry’
I nodded soberly
I was taught when I was 8 like most children of
that I am criminal,
that we, children of color, are criminals
Before I even had the chance to choose what path or who I want to be
It was decided for me
By racism that surrounds us everywhere.
I was the suspect,
I was the rapist,
I was the thief,
I was the criminal,
Why was this? Because of my skin
Something that was once as innocent and simple
as ‘a different shade of crayon,’
now became the difference between
innocence and guilt.
Before people see who I am,
they see the skin color that I am.
And for some, because of my skin, they think less of me.
By the time I was 12 I learned the streets like the back of my hand to avoid police.
By the time I was 17 I wouldn’t drive at night in fear of being stopped for something I wasn’t doing.
Why is it fair
that I live in fear?
Why is it that the chief principle of worthiness in our world the shade of color a person is born?
People of color have fought
For freedom and equality since the beginning of time.
And I feel inevitably we will be forced to keep fighting
And do not get me wrong,
I am not ashamed of my
Ashamed of our world.
We fail to accept diversity, because it scares us.
We simultaneously tell ourselves that
We ‘value’ uniqueness.
When these things are said, they’re not with meaning.
We have the power to stop racism
but we don’t.
I still see the person that crosses the street when they notice me, a black man
Or rather notice
Not me at all
As I grew up I stopped noticing the color of people’s cubbies
and started to notice the color of their skin.
I grew aware of how color changed the way people perceived others,
and watched as it slowly started to devour the way I perceive myself.
As I grew up, I was raised in a predominantly white suburban town.
Full of predominantly white people.
On my first day of 5th grade
each person went around the circle
Sharing their name, where they’re from, and their favorite color.
I shared that I was from Florida.
A student across from me looked me dead in the eye,
“You can’t be from Florida, I’m from Florida. You must be from Africa.”
My body crumpled like a piece of trash being stepped on.
This was the first time I ever witnessed someone try to stereotype me because of my
I looked around desperately, seeking out comfort or sympathy or understanding from a peer.
All I saw were snickering
Whether this was from pure ignorance
Or intentional cruelty
It did not matter.
The deed was done.
For the first time I understood first-hand
some people don’t see a person when they see me.
They see a
As each year passes I get stopped more and more often on my way home from school
“Where do you think you’re going?”
I watch as a group of white boys pass by.
The same place as them.
I wanted to say.
I wanted to tell them.
The only place I don’t feel watched,
Scared because of my
routinely I empty my pockets.
I give them my bag to look through.
The safest option.
Normalized to me.
I started to believe it myself.
That this is okay.
This makes sense because
they are only doing their job.
Protecting people from crime
and I am the criminal because of my
But that is twisted.
Color may differentiate appearance, but not human worth.
The day I was born
I was guilty with the predestined path of being a criminal.
But who is to say
One color precedes another.
Each color appears different, I agree,
yet the same in value.
The dark ocean
As vast and as important as the light sand,
It’s sad to say that I wish
because of the sad state of our world today,
to once again be a young child.
One ignorant of pain
One full of too much naïveté to focus on anything but the beauty and simplicity that is
Why is the world we live in
We act as though because it is 2016
Our problems are gone.
We are diverse and kind!
We are progressive!
But how can we pretend
That attacks on innocent people are not
If not race
what then are principles
Of these attacks?
What else do they have in common?
Other than racist police,
and unarmed people of
Why is it
The group who has suffered the most
through slavery, segregation, now police brutality
Is subject to more pain?
why is color
no longer innocent?
As it once was in our fresh, untouched minds.
When we see a rainbow
we see a range of
We stand in awe and simply appreciate it.
Yet we cannot do the same for different races, colors?
We must respect
of all colors.
When we are young we are taught all of our colors.
When are we going to be taught that all colors are good?