Radical Revision

Location

Cars, and toys, and rug burns

I am a boy. I am a boy.

Basketball, hip-hop, down the block.

I am black. I am black.

Black boy looking into that cracked reflection in the window.

I can’t see my back.

Hacked, slashed, and bashed.

But all I see is an uncomfortable smile in that glass.

I’m looking out, but I’m looking in.

See the same thing they see every day.

Brown complexion

Dark hair

A boyish face

They stop right there.

Glancing over the curves of my heart.

They say the same thing every start.

It must be hard growing up in the hood.

I know it’s difficult to study when you have a broken home.

Do you want to be a basketball player when you grow up?

You played all of your life right?

Or how about a rapper?

You know your type are good at those things right?

 

My type

My identity

To them was never mine

I’ll explain.

 

Identity

This pure, white, square, canvas.

Constructed out of the earth’s womb.

Freely given, freely taken.

But not freely given to me, simply taken.

See we complain about the hassle of recycling

But they had no problem recycling me.

My pure, white, square, canvas

Was the recycled box they thought inside of,

And gave back to me as new.

But see, a canvas, a square, a box,

Cannot be thought inside of-every time.

So they thought outside of the box.

Instead of thinking a new design every time, they made one.

One bleak, black, basic, canvas,

Repeated over; and over; and over again.

Mass production.

But the mass production was not the pop art seen in galleries.

They didn’t take the time to individualize.

They didn’t put a ribbon on each.

Millions of canvases were delivered by air,

One landing on my front porch.

The bleak, the black, the basic, canvas

Had no specific address

Signed in the right corner was not my signature, but a stamp that said:

One to all, too all black boys indeed. 

 

So I’m looking out the window.

The window of life, the window to freedom, the window to all that—

Was for me only one thing,

A mirror.

My future was a mirror,

And as I said before I could not see what was really me behind that reflection.

Deflection, subjection, hurt, pain, disdain, shame.

Painted in my back by the paint of others that I personally lacked.

 

One day I decided to become my own painter.

I took the paint of my childhood and stroked the used canvas of my past.

Orange for the warriors I emulated.

The blue Ka-me-ha-me-has flashed across my creativity.

The black of the stealthy ninjas threw shurikens,

Like I threw ideas.

Quick, numerously, and accurately.

White for the sky I would fly over with my majestic wings.

Gray for when the clouds fell with me,

But I didn’t cry I simply became a water bender in the fog.

Green for my godly, gardening, green thumb,

That would hum with life

When I pressed it into the cold lifeless dirt.

Brown for the color that I saw in the mirror, and stayed in the mirror.

Not leaping out of its place,

And following me like a shadow.

Poking me in the back every time I stepped out of line.

 

You can’t sing these songs.

Those are girly you’re a guy.

You can’t watch those K-pop drama either.

You’re black, BET, brother.

And I knowwww you ain’t reading the Iliad.

You best be holding that book to get a girl’s attention, cause let’s be honest.

 

Half the words in it you don’t know.

When was the last time you saw an educated black man.

And F.Y.I. Homer from the Simpson did not make the Iliad.

 

Skeptical of the painting on my canvas.

I stare at it.

Bright mosaic colors, ranging from bright warms hues to stark cold shades.

Mixtures splashing together like waves, superseding the balderdash they should make.

I was pleased with it,

Even though my art was on a canvas that was gray.

 

Comments

Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741