He was only a Boy

He was my age when he died,
a boy who would now never grow up.
I don't know what it's like
to grow up hated and feared
by simple minds and closed hearts.
I don't know what it's like
to feel the need to hide my face
as if I showed it I'd be a target.
I don't know what it's like
to be made ashamed, to be made an enemy,
to be told that I'm not welcome.
I don't know him or the boy he was,
what it's like to be the color of his skin.
I know what it's like to be seventeen.
I know it is merely a blink of an eye
in any lifetime, black or white.
In that time, one readies themselves
for the life they plan to have,
for the future they climb to,
a mountaintop he'll never reach.
One man thought he looked scary,
so he took that future away
and now he'll never fall in love,
he'll never go to college,
he'll never start a career,
he'll never wed,
he'll never be a father.
He'll always be a son,
he'll always be a friend,
he'll always be a brother, a cousin, a nephew.
But that one white man didn't think
about any of those facts
when he reached for his gun.

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