I Woke Up Black Today

Subtitle: Redivivus

Black Lives Matter sign

I woke up black today.

It’s something I must remember;
I’ve had to remember for safety’s sake,
for, daily, my life is at stake.

For I’ve never been treated like other people –
like you –
being given the benefit of the doubt.
Rather when I walk down the street, going from here to there
(or dare I exercise my right to run)
or drive
or enter a bank or store,
always it seems, it is assumed
by you
that I am there for more;
to rob you,
to steal from you,
to destroy you,
to take from you what doesn’t belong to me.

But my remembrance that I am black doesn’t spare me;
doesn’t save me from dying
by you.

I am chased for being out of place
by “noble ones” performing a citizen’s arrest;
tho’ failing that lawful test
rather wresting my life from me
with a shotgun blast.

I woke up black today
and spent the day as an EMT saving lives,
then, at night, to rest upon mine own bed
only to be shot and killed by officers of the law
errantly showing up at the wrong place;
and tho’ it was my place,
I was there at the wrong time.

I woke up black today.
And this time, I was charged with resisting arrest;
the officer, his boot remaining on my neck,
even after I stopped moving,
long after I, begging, “I can’t breathe,”
stopped breathing.

I continue to wake up black.
My skin, like a pelt, a hunter’s insignia,
a reason
to chase,
to choke, or
to shoot to kill
and all because (you say) I threaten you;
my dark skin, unlike the clarity of your white translucency,
makes me automatically untrustworthy
(but why should I trust you?);
hence, I am no one who no one, surely, you need understand,
much less know.
For so and still, it hath been that I to you am better dead;
the less said by you to justify your unjustifiable,
the better, the best, for then you can rest in peace.
But not – in life or in death – me.

© 2020 PRA

2 thoughts on “I Woke Up Black Today

  1. Paul,

    As someone wrote on Facebook I can’t add one thing to this. Except…. I hope this becomes a sermon!!

    Just AMEN!! And THANK YOU!!

    Love you!!


    1. Amen, my Sister.


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