"A young man

called me a




He said

with no care

it must be so,

because of my hair.


The hair on my scalp


my predisposition

to one's color of skin. 


I actually laughed, 

because it caught me

off guard, 

I've never been accused before. 


That moment 

not so lost in time, 

ran through my mind

once, twice, 


three times more.

I had asked, 

I see, that's interesting, 

but what makes you think this?


Have you seen me

ever once before in your life

before this time?



but he shook his head, 

for in his point of view

there was no need for justification, 

I must be racist


because I had a haircut

like the white guys did

in the Buzzfeed video

he saw on his Facebook. 


I laughed again, 

because the only time 

I was ever so mad 

at a man


was not because he was 


or that he was a lesser man

but because he


was trying to kill me

in Afghanistan 

not because I was or wasn't 



but American.


So frustrated I was,

thinking back to how many times

I've laid a fellow brother to rest,

and I'm not talking skin, 


I'm writing of my fellow kin

who have shared the din

and roar of combat with the enemy.


Thinking back to,

the few

who didn't make it home, 

who's blood 


I had to wash out 

off my blouse.

The enemy didn't care about skin.

They didn't ask


which chump 

I had voted for.

Or if I was pro-choice 

or against Jesus Christ 


or how much I've studied 

the Sunni and Shiite split, 

which I admit,

I know way too much about.


No one asked me anything. 

So when this young man

approached me, 

when I'm trying to buy some

beans and rice


and informed me

that I was a racist, 

I was upset.

He must be blind,


he must incorrectly

assume I am white,

he must have an issue

I'm about to fix.


But before I did anything...

his mother came down the aisle.

She looked at him

and me,


and almost sobbed out sorry.

You see, 

there's a lot going on lately, 

and I don't blame him.


I know a few things, 

like the muzzle velocity 

of a 9mm round,

the recipe for homemade pupusa,


and how to train 

a dog how to lay down, 

but what has me frowning

is that I can't help


a young man's 


of a new haircut. 

Of just staying in regulation. 


For there was no conversation, 

no back and forth, 

no chance to reach out

and cool out and speak.


I had no paint, 

for those who have seen 

and heard and experienced 

have a canvas


that won't accept a new coat,

and that's no one's fault.

There is no wrong here.

But a painter 


cannot paint on a canvas

not there, 

a preacher 

can't save a non-believer 


who half-listens,

and a young man

can't be shown

that hair


don't make a man racist.


In a life

where skin color 

were just crayons, 

black, white, brown, yellow and red, 


the accuracy of such an accusation

is skewed. 

But to the young man, 

who more than likely 

lived a life where these colors


had a different view,

his words rang true.

For perception 


is as fluid as water, 

but hardens like concrete,

and it doesn't change once it dries.


And at that moment in time, 

that's all I was, 

a kid trying write on concrete,

trying to talk


and write some chalk

on this little sidewalk.


Except chalk 

never stays.

It always dissappears.

And different ideas


never appear. 


Changing concrete

talks that aggressive, intrusive, 

violent thrusting of the jackhammer, 

drilling away in chunks 


concrete with noise 

and pain and calamity. 


It's a damn shame.


If only perception 

worked so efficiently, 

Instead of one or the other.

Black or white, 


Democrat or Republican, 

Liberal or Conservative. 



or the enemy's target.

There's no in between,


when you're dealing

with concrete."

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Race. What a subject...

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