The Absence of Color

Every day since birth 

my father told me that our worth
Was determined by people

who would never even shake our hands.
How can you understand a man’s

worth without trying to search
for what he stands for?
Contrary to popular belief, we are not free.
If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything
And lately it’s like my brothers are free falling 

in our cities’ streets.

Gravity in full effect
As our necks
get
whip-lash
similar to how my ancestors did as
The
whip lashed upon their skin.
Time stops for no man but we are not that different.
The years have passed but my generation still feels the pressure
As if the first Black President was some small gesture
To keep us calm and content.
The content in which we choose to include in the dialogue

with our kids has changed for the worse.
They no longer dream, instead they live in fear.
Frightened of those who have sworn to protect us.
Mistrust leads to Misunderstanding
And it is reciprocated with “
Mistakes” made by men with badges 

that Misinterpret what my brother has in his pocket.

Can a man walk down the street
in his own city without having to be discrete?
I conform to my surroundings so that the people I meet
Aren’t afraid of who I am.
A Black man.
They say my skin is the opposite of white

so they do not have to treat me the same.
But they don’t want to be the ones to blame
For the inequality where they stand.
In this land,

life is a privilege not a God given gift.
It is something that can be taken away from you
And if you fight to stay alive when you are wanted dead

then you are considered the violent one,
Even though you had no gun
Or anything other than your bare hands to protect yourself.
But chin up Black man,
Stick out your chest and stand proud.
That dark cloud
that lingers above your head will soon be blown away,
At least that’s what they say.
But we all know that
Words don’t mean much when your actions aren’t there for support.
We are desensitized to the
World around us,
Forming
Wide Webs of excuses that connect us all.
Leaving no room to post the truth on our ‘
dot coms.’
We are born at a disadvantage simply based on our skin “color.”
But Black is defined as the absence of color.
Yet another way for them to exclude us from the norm.
We are different.
And that unpredictability is what they see as deviant.
We can become whatever we decide and that is not acceptable.
See, I want to dip my hands in paint.
Touch each finger with colors of skin

and brush all ten of them
Across my unborn child’s face 

so that no matter where he goes,
he can walk down the street and
fit in.
It is sad that we must all
fit in-to
a human mold that was not designed for us.
I want to be free.
Not the kind that my country portrays to the rest of the world,
The kind that allows me to report a crime 

without being portrayed as the criminal 

once my “protectors” reach the scene.
It’s obscene to see how the news portrays me.
I am not “dangerous, delusional, demonic, deviant, destructive, dumb or difficult”.
I am a Black man.
Grown from the roots of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech,
And it is obvious that my continued growth is feared.
My Absence is wanted but I plan on being present for
The present and future abuse of my people.
Drown out my words with waves of unprovoked shootings 

and take away my breath with a choke 

but I will still hold
Onto my beliefs.
I am tired of sitting on life’s couch while nothing gets done,
As if I am searching for the answers in between each cushion 

and can feel that change is near.

I pray that Heaven is better than life on Earth.
Because here, a black man’s worth
Decreases every day based on a system designed for us to fail since birth.

                                By Tevin J. Reese

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