It’s been an intense few weeks finding black people and people of colour landed squarely in the middle of dealing with another pandemic – racism. Something has to give. Something has to change. The discussions have been full on, the marches necessary, the fall out shocking, the emotions draining.
When conversation fails me, I turn to poetry.
The process of tokenization and self-editing to fit and keep the status quo that starts at school and is a life’s work for blacks / POC has been a key discussion point over the last few weeks for me, my family and my friends.
‘That One (Black) Friend’ riffs on the daily micro aggressions, reductions and ignorance that black people and POC absorb on the regular. It pinpoints the comments made that are so commonplace they land as acceptable commentary on someone’s existence: an existence that by the very comparisons is considered secondary in importance to their own. It captures those innocent moments and innocuous ‘jokes’ that consciously crush, reduce, deter, erase and ridicule. (Black) is written in this way in order to represent how people say they ‘don’t see colour’ then constantly refer to it in other more insidious ways. They don’t see it, they don’t say it but we always know it’s there, lurking in the background, snarling in its inequality, screaming in its injustice.
‘That One (Black) Friend’ also stakes a claim for what is really happening but never given any credence or credit – that white identity is, by its own design, intrinsically linked to black / POC. You can’t have the light without the dark.
My poem is still a rough draft and I’m considering more verses. I will continue to tweak it, but am presenting it today because it’s not in bad shape after a week.