Last night, as I killed a bug in my apartment, I began to wonder if I will forever see dead black things as harrowing symbols. I wrote this poem on Twitter:
at midnight / I crushed a beetle / with an ash black shoe / its body curled and snapped / stiff shell mangled / on the sole / at my fingers / at midnight / I saw another / a soul / coated black like mine / snapping / snatched
I fell asleep wondering who might be next.
And today, as I meticulously tied my hair into a head wrap, a beautiful printed blue scarf from my time in Venice, I couldn’t help but think that someone somewhere outside the walls of my apartment would not think it beautiful, but vile.
Tonight, after my Race and Communication class that was full of gripping discussions on intersectionality and colorblindness, I walked home, like I usually do, looking forward to my designated 30 minutes of debriefing by way of poetry writing.
I was careful to triple check for cars at intersections, because you never know when people might blame dark skin. I held my breath as a truck roared by, its confederate flag sticker barely visible in the night, its American flag slapping the cool air.
Two minutes later, from a nondescript car, a man screamed, “WHITE POWER!” as he passed me. And because I had not been holding my breath as I had for the truck, because I had been thinking of ice cream or poetry or perhaps my bed, for a second, I lost my breath when a familiar pang of anger and outrage jolted through my stomach.
The rest of the walk home, my heart hammered. I told myself: This is not fine, but it is normal. I asked myself: You had been expecting it, right?