To Be Black - Semilore Kilaso
Placards scream “Black Lives Matter”
they don’t mean it, their words end in
the trash after the hashtag and retweet.
A white woman says “All Lives Matter”, that I agree.
I find it hard to believe that we breathe the same
black air filled with burning skin and soot.
Jamal says Black Lives Matter is for Black
whose ancestors suffered cultivating sugarcane
plantations — slaves who wore death & pain as skin.
I mean, there is a no price tag on my life &
My head is on the pavement waiting to be
hit by a bullet — having black skin is risky.
He blames my ancestors for selling his ancestors for silver.
He says I am not like him, I am African and not a
Black pleading allegiance to the red, white and blue.
Jamal says he holds no African passport — I should
quit seeking asylum in countries I do not belong.
I am guilty because fear is etched on my skin.
I tell Jamal he is wrong — to be Black
is not to be sharpened by pain and hate, but to
wear one’s skin with pride and choose not to die.
Semilore Kilaso is a writer who loves to collect photographs of humans, architecture, wildlife, and landscape. When she is not playing Scrabble or reading books, she is reading lines from architectural drawings. Her work appears in Culturalweekly, Entropy, The Radical Art Review, nantygreens, and elsewhere. You can reach her on twitter @ooreola