~Esther Mitchell, 2014~
They tell you children are color-blind,
That they don’t see race until they’re taught.
When I was six years old,
I learned to fear white men,
To see a monster in every face,
The product of terror and pain,
Soul bled out, invisible,
Torn from me amidst savage words,
Burned forever into memory,
A litany of demonic voices trapped within my head.
It took a white man to show me,
There was nothing to fear,
That I was stronger than that pain,
That not all white men are monsters.
When I was eight years old,
I learned to fear black men,
At the hands of a black man with power over me,
Who tore my lungs from my chest,
Because I already could not breathe,
Who flayed me with the very Elements,
An icy knife that slashed my body in two,
Until my vision faded, my knees weakened,
And I could not run any more.
It took a black man to teach me there was nothing to fear,
Who saw my terror, and spoke to it,
Gently told me there was no reason left to run,
And gave me back the power of my own lungs.
I was a child who learned to fear everything male,
To shrink away from any touch,
To close my eyes and pretend they might all go away,
For fear the next time, I might not survive.
Until one man showed me I was the one with the power,
To bring a man to his knees,
And to lift him up so he could fly.
And in realizing all that I am,
I realized all that I am not.
I am not a victim unless I choose to be,
I am not blind, deaf, or mute,
Unless I choose to let myself be led.
Violence and ignorance are identical,
No matter the color they wear upon their skin,
And if you’re looking for the monster,
The first place to look is deep within.