It’s alive and well, whispered through the trees, growing like ivy up the walls of every institution built by and known to man. It lies hidden in the words of those who tell you that I “sound so white” for being a person of color. It’s the same slap you feel when they’ve decided to accept your friendship because “you’re not ghetto like the other black girls”. It decorates the mask of color-blindness that I wore for years, the same mask covering the many faces of today. It’s the latch of the door of the closet you’re trying to free yourself from. It’s curled up on the tongue of the “brother” that tells you to “eat off your own plate” because “sisters” should never be running them white boys. It’s the word that threatens to slip into your stereotyping mind when you can’t see her hair because she wears a hijab. It’s spelled out in the semen you’re wiping off of your stomach even though you had told him “no”. It’s your spit in the face of the migrant that you complain is taking all of our American jobs— the very same jobs that you would never even consider applying for yourself.
Denied by both the master and the slave that supposedly had been set free way back before Lincoln earned his spot on the penny. Blindness. Or is it just willful ignorance? It’s taking a single sip of the lead-infested water that they are forced to drink and bathe in everyday and using that drip as a testament to the water’s purity. It’s sticking your fingers in your ears in a futile effort to drown out the deafening sound of those scraping the bottom of the barrel— the same barrel on top of which you are standing. It’s the odor of the hot, black tar you’re pouring over us so that you may drive on the smoother, paved road. Wake up.