#prejudice

DEAR SERENA

 

Dear Serena Williams…I want to take a moment and apologize to you

for something I didn’t say…something I did not do.

 

As we waited under a crab apple tree for our pizza the other day

a group of people wanting to share our shade sat a few feet away.

 

They were loud..a bit obnoxious…as they sat so close beside me…

and when their conversation turned to tennis…anger boiled inside me.

 

When the subject turned to you Serena…words I’ll never forget

one man laughed saying why would I want to watch a gorilla hitting balls across the net.

 

His conversation partners chuckled…my heart dropped to the ground…

this man was spewing his bigotry…and there were children running ‘round.

 

We didn’t want to hear any more so as soon as we were able

we took our pizza and our anger and moved…to a different table.

 

It should have been a wonderful moment…eating pizza on a beautiful day in the south

but every bite of pizza…left a bad taste in my mouth.

 

I was angry…as we took our pizza and walked off in a huff…

but I realized a little later…my anger’s not enough.

 

I wish someone had said something…

I wish that someone was me…

to let them know I didn’t care for their arrogance and bigotry.

 

I wish that I had done something…even though I was outmanned

to show them just how wrong they were…to help them understand. 

 

I hope when faced with a similar situation I’ll change the paradigm…

and work to stem the tide of bigotry…one person at a time.

 

Serena, my sincere apology is all I have to offer you today

next time I promise I’ll try harder to find the right words to say.

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WHAT'S IMPORTANT

 

Here’s something we all need to know about the color of our skin…

the section that holds the pigment is actually quite thin.

 

I imagine our creators, after painting the world we were to inhabit in a variety of beautiful hues…decided when it came to creating us…to add a little of color too.

 

But just a touch of color and I imagine our creators were elated when they realized the beauty of all the colors they created.

 

I imagine this was the final piece of our creation…the color of our skin…

and knowing how important all the other pieces were is why they made our final piece so thin.

 

Yes, I. Imagine our creators felt…just like the colors of the flowers, the birds, the sky… the stars…

The color of our skin is but a small fraction of who we are.

 

I imagine they never imagined that once created…here within…

there would be people whom they created who couldn’t see past the color of one’s skin.

 

Who allow the color of one’s skin…one infinitesimal fraction of a part…

to block them from discovering what’s in a person’s soul…or see into their heart

 

If our creators made color only a tiny part of what is you and what is me…

If they didn’t think it was that important…

It makes me wonder…why do we?

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DO YOU KNOW ME?

 

 

This poem is dedicated to anyone who has ever felt the agony and pain of prejudice…

who have been left battered and beaten and scarred….

and to those who have inflicted that pain…

for you both know who you are.

 

DO YOU KNOW ME?

 

Do you know me?

Like every human I am made up of chromosomes and genes.

Yet, I am told I am not normal…and I don’t know what that means.

 

Do you know me?

I use to wake up every morning as happy as a clam…

glad to be alive knowing who I am…is…who I am.

 

Do you know me?

I was so happy with who I am and the way my life unfurled…

until I took my first steps into a cruel and heartless world.

 

Do you know me?

It was here my view of normal got distorted and confused…

for out here I have been made fun of, punched, spit upon…abused.

 

Do you know me?

Some people look at me and think, to them, I am a threat!

I am even hated, yes hated, by people I’ve never met!

 

Do you know me?

I have been beaten, shot, stabbed, strung up and left hanging from a tree.

by people who want to kill me…just for being me.

 

Do you know me?

I have friends who have killed themselves…an action I cannot condemn.

for they have chosen to leave a world that wasn’t ready for them.

 

Do you know me?

Have you ever felt so lonely…so sad…so deep in darkness…

a way out you cannot see?

Have you ever contemplated different ways to end your misery. 

 

Do you know me?

Have you ever really looked at me…

ever stood where I have stood…

Have you ever tried to get to know me…

If not…oh how I wish you would.

 

For I am sure…all you out there who abuse me…who call me names…

once you get to know me…you will never feel the same.

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HER GREATEST FEAR

With poverty, hunger, hatred and war seemingly around every bend

he asked the wisest person he knows if she feared the world is coming to an end.

 

She looked at him with a sadness that made him feel a little strange

“I do not fear the world will end.” she said.

“I fear it will continue without change”.


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THE SOUL OF OUR NATION

I once thought the soul of our nation was a mix of colors 

A mix of colors shining bright

but I was wrong…the soul of our nation is the absence of color

the soul of our nation is white.

 

(Which is crazy when you think about it…I mean that statement can’t be right

because there’s not a person in this land who’s DNA is purely white!)

 

Still, I falsely thought since my life was easy…since I was safe and free

that everyone in America…had it as good as me.

 

What made me realize my mistake…what made me start to seethe

was when George cried out for his Momma…

when George yelled, “I can’t breathe.”

 

It was when I watched a white man deliberately take a black man’s life

and I thought, “How can we be so unkind?”

It was when I saw the pain and sorrow grip the world

It’s when I saw the friends and family he left behind.

 

I am sorry it has taken me so long…to hear over 200 years of pleas…

from the Indian reservations to the slave ships on the seas…

 

How could I have ignored them?

They’ve been pleading every day…

but now that I have heard them…I know they’ll never go away

 

Nor should they…for it’s time we listen to their pleas

It’s time we make some changes…before our time is gone

It’s time in the battle for our nations soul…to decide what side we’re on.

 

And perhaps we’ll find when we put an end to their over 200 years of hell

in saving the soul of our nation

we’ll have saved our souls as well.



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American Beach

We decided to visit the largest sand dune in Florida 

it was well within our reach

just a few miles drive from where we were camping

at a place called American Beach.

 

And we saw the largest sand dune in Florida 

which of course is what we went there for

but in visiting American Beach

we got the sand dune…and so much more.

 

There was a time, a sad time in our history

one part of some of our darkest days and nights

When African Americans were allowed to swim in the ocean…

just not allowed to swim there with the whites.

 

Abraham Lincoln Lewis wanted his employees to have a beach 

so American Beach was created

giving African Americans a place to swim

all-be-it to swim segregated.

 

For many years American Beach thrived

until segregated beaches were needed no more

when the Civil rights act was finally passed…back n 1964.

 

The sand dune is all that’s left of American Beach

that and a few trees and grasses swaying in the breeze

but also posted at the site are some photos

of children, of churches and families.

 

When you see these pictures…when you look at the dune

and think of where all these African Americans sat

you think to yourself…children and churches and families

it doesn’t get any more American than that!

 

And you wonder as you see these segregated African American families

In frame after frame after frame

If there will come a time in this country

where all people see all people the same.

 

So as we stood near the largest sand dune in Florida

and were reminded of the wickedness of Jim Crow..

we prayed we never make the same mistakes again

 

that we made only a short time ago.



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THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN

Here’s an interesting fact about the color of our skin:

the section that holds the color is unusually thin.

 

I imagine to our creator…it was a snap…a finger flick

making the section with our pigment only a millimeter thick.

 

I’m sure she had her reasons…perhaps it wasn’t even functional

Perhaps she just wanted to make our world a little more beautiful.

 

Perhaps even though he was the creator he was inquisitive

perhaps he wanted to see how people of different colors live. 

 

Perhaps after creating in us similar brains, and eyes and hearts

he wanted to give us a simple way of telling each other apart. 

 

Perhaps she wanted us to look both outside as well as in

and see there is so much more to who we are than the color of our skin.

 

Perhaps her belief in her creations was both resolute and strong…

and she never guessed there would be reasons we would not get along…

 

My guess is he didn’t think it important…the color of our skin 

which is why when creating all our pieces she made our color part so thin.

 

Perhaps our creator hoped…from the moment our life begins

We would use our brain, our eyes and our heart…to see past the color of our skin.

 

After all, if our creator made color such a small part of you…

and such a small part of me

If she didn’t think it that important…

I wonder…

 

why do we?


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A QUESTION TO PARENTS

When our first child is born

we celebrate the day

at that moment we don’t care

if they are bi or straight or gay

 

We only care they are alive…

have all their body parts...

that they are breathing on their own…

and come with healthy hearts.

 

And each time we are blessed with a child

we celebrate that day

still not caring at that moment

if they are bi

or straight

or gay.

 

We only care that they are close to us…

that in their lives we play a part

that they all have gentleness in their souls…

and kindness in their hearts

 

And so parents of the world I ask this question: 

As we think back to our initial vow…

If we didn’t care when they were born…

 

Why should we care now?


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COLORED WATER

She was a white child growing up in the ’50’s…from a loving family she came

She did not know of bigotry…she was taught to treat everyone the same.

 

One day out with her mother…a summer day…it couldn’t be hotter

the little girl walked up to a fountain…to get a drink of water.

 

Two fountains standing side by side…both contained the water that she needed

She walked up to the one marked colored…when an old man interceded.

 

“Little one,” he said, “you can’t drink from that fountain…they say it isn’t right.

you must drink from the other fountain…the one that’s labeled white.”

 

“But I never drank colored water before!” I want to use this one instead…

I want to see if it’s blue or yellow or maybe green or red.”

 

“I know it’s confusing,” her mom told her…”and I don’t even like to think it

but the signs are not for the water…they’re for the people who will drink it.”

 

The little girl stood there confused…she was truly taken aback

“But you’re not colored.” she said to the man. “You’re a beautiful shade of black.”

 

“And what about me!” she said out loud. “When I take the time to think.

I’m not really white at all…I’m a lovely shade of pink.”

 

“I don’t understand!” the little girl said. “If everybody here on Earth is equally created

why do the fountains we drink from need to be separated?”

 

She walked over to the colored fountain…filled her cup to the very top

then put the cup up to her lips…and drank down every drop.

 

Then she smiled at her mom…she wasn’t the lease bit scared

As she filled her cup, handed it to the man and smiled…”This water’s to be shared.”

 

The little girl is a woman now…she knows every person is meant to coexist

and even though separate fountains are gone…she knows prejudice persists…

 

But she also knows there is a way…to change this paradigm…

It takes one person…with one cup of water

to change the world…

 

one person at a time.


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