Race Renaissance

Race Renaissance

He said he felt unsafe

They moved forward, together

Five hurried steps of hers to match one long stride of his,

in tandem.

And she talked about her new preschool friend

from down the block, excited.

But he could not hear her

over the sirens blaring in his mind

and the disappointed face she would make when she heard

she could not go inside that friend’s house

because that home, was only for mirrors,

and there was no room for newspapers –

just hollow reflections.

There was room, his mind strained, as if pulling on a muscle

if only the door was open

they could see just how important newspapers are and that without them, there is empty color.

He pictures his daughter’s face when she learns the truth

that the world has not made room for her

That when her friend is taught only to see mirrors

the friendship will be over.

That one day she will get older, and no longer wrap her small fingers

around her father’s thumb

and without her, he will be vulnerable

and every day will bring more uncertainty.

And he knows one day she will understand

and grow to inherit these feelings

and that day the world will break his heart, because it will have broken hers.

He feels her fingers grip his tighter 

as they inch closer to the crowd

and in her silence, he knows

she is absorbing the magnitude of what is happening before them.

The hope that brings desperate shine to his eyes

the hope that one day they will no longer have to feel unsafe

the hope that one day the mirrors and reflections that have been hung up for so long

just might be taken down from their pedestals

to make room for some art.

When colors come together, art is what we call it.

Whether on storefronts or canvas

with spray paint or with ink

when colors swarm and swirl together,

like missing threads reunited,

Art, is what we call it.

And if there is enough room for art in this world

there is enough room for all people.

She tugs on his thumb and he squats down to her level.

She points at the crowd, her eyes wide with delight.

Because what is in front of her is not someone else’s mirror,

but something better.

A new world breaking, and coming

as one.

3 thoughts on “Race Renaissance”

  • This poem is pretty offensive and tone deaf. It’s really confusing that you seemingly equate black people to art in newspapers? People are not art, they are people. Peoples lives are being lost and this feels flippant and childish. We’re not swarming as colors, people are dying for their human rights. It would be more valuable for you to evaluate your white privilege and commit to an anti-racist viewpoint. Maybe post Black Lives Matter? And use your platform to assess your privilege?

  • I’m sorry that you feel that way. Poetry -as with any art form is subjective and up for interpretation. I would encourage you to give it another read. You’ll see the poem follows a Black American father and his young daughter – based on a story I heard where black men feel safer out walking with their children. When the poem speaks about “art” and “renaissance” it is comparing the BLM protests and movement to a Renaissance – a period of resurgence where beautiful things (people coming together to protest for justice and hopefully see systemic change because of it) can come out of a terrible time. If you give this another read you’ll find that if the newspapers metaphor is offensive to black people, the mirrors metaphor would be offensive to white people. Again, this poem is up for interpretation but I would never post anything to be offensive to a movement I feel so strongly about and was moved to write about on a blog where I do not write about political or current events. This post is not about my privilege. Instead it is a way for me to wrap my head around what I’m seeing happening in the US right now. Poetry does not spell everything out for you. You need to analyze and read between the lines.

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