South of South Station on the outskirts of Boston
A city amongst the most segregated in the States
Black Lives Matter signs
Fitted with white font against a black backdrop
Zip tied to chain link fences
began popping up on street corners
Whiteness doesn’t live in Dorchester, Massachusetts
& seeing these signs reminded me of conversations
That I had with fellow whites when they said
All Lives Matter, Brian
Not just black
What about white privilege?
Get the hell out of here,
You think black and brown people are the only ones suffering?
I know plenty of white people struggling
These conversations went south before I had a few sentences out of my mouth
But I won’t give up
I’ll find a way to their mind
Even if it takes time
Most people won’t believe what they can’t see
& In a society steeped in visuals this isn’t a surprise
How then can I get through to those who were bestowed with benefits solely because of their skin color?
First strategy: storytellin’
I am a white male
& my experience has been perched atop a position of privilege.
I realize that.
One can’t change their skin color,
but one can continue to mold their mind.
Up until college, I never knew this privilege existed
Because I couldn’t see it.
No one taught me
No one challenged me on this subject
I was ignorantly living it
Then I was lectured on it, studied it, and began to see it play out in the media
Now I teach it
Knowledge is power, yet it’s not everything
I’ve never experienced the misfortune of being on the other side
Books and media can only inform one so much
I’ll never know what it feels like to
I’ll never know what it feels like when
I’ll never know what it feels like
By inserting scenarios I act like I have an idea
But they’re blank because I don’t
Self reflection is a powerful tool to promote understanding.
What’s your experience with white privilege?
Pushing past personal narrative
Let's get to the cold hard truth
What if I try and use rhymes?
What if I try to use art
To open others hearts
All in an attempt to push back against prejudice?
Second strategy: Spit facts that flow
Those three white words Black Lives Matter stick out to the naked eye
The way young black men pop out to police officers
I’d be remised to say ‘all’ officers because by stereotyping
we all fall back into the trap & hand of a man whose mind has the power
to pull the trigger when ‘threatened’
and even if the trigger finger is silent, saving families from seeing
blood run, puddle, and unfairly finish someone’s life
Black Lives are not spared from living behind bars, barred from living a life
Like those whose skin resembles fresh computer paper that prints the statistics
which speak to systematic racism
In major metropolises like LA Philly & NYC
men of color are five times more likely to be stopped, frisked, than those whose pigment aligns more to the police
So if you think that all lives matter, you’re right
But not all lives are marginalized
Not all lives are persecuted at such a rate and at times left without a trace
& if we trace it all the way back to when blacks were stolen
& chained and took with no shame by men whose skin color resembles my own
we can see why Black Lives Matter has always needed to be seen, vocalized, and most importantly rectified
At the end of the day,
These are just strategies
& This is just a poem
This was white privilege mixed with black lives matter
Can these techniques break the boundaries that the brain has placed around race?
I don’t know
It could kick start thought.
My thoughts on this subject seem so minuscule to the real
Dangers and anger that people of color face
But by talking about sensitive subjects
By engaging with those whose hearts and minds are far right
By encouraging self reflection around race we can continue to move forward
I don’t know
But I do know I will join the fight for what’s right
& I hope y’all are with me because
As a collective nation
we all play a part
In promoting peace
As a collective nation
We all play a part
In pursuing and fighting for justice