Black History Month: A Poem By Yours Truly

So What If It Was a Black Man?

Have you noticed how often you play the Race Card?
Your Blackness has become a crutch,
A liability that sets you back
Instead of propelling you forward.
You blame you darker complexion for not getting that job
When you don’t have the degree.
You curse little Sarah,
Who went missing yesterday,
But don’t want to admit that
Troubled Shaniqua actually ran away,
And although Black on Black crime is at its height,
When a Black man’s murder is reported on the news,
In your mind, the killer is always white.

In a time when it is
Post-slavery
Post-Jim Crow
Post-Civil Rights,
The ratio of white to Black is
Forty-three to one in the White House
And the reciprocal in the Big House.
Yet you still sit on your ass
Moaning and groaning
Like every misdeed done in this country
Was solely based on race,
But it doesn’t encourage you to fight
Against this country’s apparent corrupted ways.

So what if it was a Black man
Who killed Trayvon Martin?
Would he be arrested on the spot?
Possibly.
But would you still show the same compassion and sympathy
For any innocent teen who lost his life unnecessarily?
So what if it was a Black man
Who was cheated out of a high paying job
And resorted to life in the streets,
Selling drugs and young girls’ chastity,
Then sent to prison
Because he couldn’t conform to society?
How would you change a system
You accuse of being modern day slavery?
So what if it was a Black man
Who was a high profile athlete
Charged with breaking the law,
And when the news spreads across all sports networks,
The league deals him a harsher blow
Than his white counterpart
Accused of the same crime a week ago?
Would you expose this unfair scheme
Or worry about how it will affect
Your fantasy team?

What does it mean to be Black in America?
For you, it means the same as it did half a century ago.
When a Black man was charged with rape
Just for staring a white women in the face,
And the Mammy loved her white employer so much
That she didn’t give a damn about the men of her own race.

After your ancestors fought in a war for their Freedom.
Began a movement simply by refusing to leave their seats.
Marched on Washington for their Civil Rights.
They would turn in their graves
To see injustice remain as it did
Just so you could continue to sit on your couch
Complaining about the color of your skin.

—Nortina


We often play the race card for menial things, but when something serious happens, we ignore it, we disappear behind the opinions of others, we fool ourselves into believing that it has nothing to do with race when, in fact, it does. I’m an optimist. I would like to say that we live in a post-racial society, but reality sinks in every time I watch the news, or simply turn on the television and see stereotypes prancing around on sitcoms. What hurts me the most is that minorities clearly see it, but the ones who have the power to change it only choose to do so when it affects their wallets. I would say that this poem, written a couple of years ago, is a call to action. A manifesto. I want everyone, not just black people, to get off their lazy asses and channel their Civil Rights brothers and sisters. The fight isn’t over until the phrase, “It would’ve been different if the guy was black,” disappears from our vernacular.

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