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The Eye of the Hurricane
Racism is a smoldering match dropped into a can of gasoline.
Racism is a homeless dog barking at the night sky like that will erase its blackness.
Racism is shadowboxing with black bodies hanging from pear trees, practicing hand-to-hand combat with outdated ideals.
Racism is a black widow in the basement of the World Trade Center.
Racism is a lion with no mouth but a roar loud enough to shatter all of our windows.
We talk about racism like it is all white robes and burning crosses and claiming hatred is heritage, with our fragile superiority founded on the knowledge that white supremacists have and do those things, and we...we don’t.
Almost as if we don’t wear this history too, like we do not unconsciously uphold this system of injustice.
Like it’s enough that KKK members are not in the room when they set immigration laws when we aren’t either.
Like it’s enough that Nazis are not helping design curriculum for public schools when we aren’t either.
Like it’s enough that white supremacists might not actively push policies like redlining, mandatory minimum sentencing, broken window policing, stop and frisk, and voter ID, when we do not actively push back.
Like racism is only the active and willing participation in violence against the black community.
Like it can’t be a judge, or a cashier, or a teacher, or a med student, or a president.
Remember: the eye of the hurricane is the least destructive part, but it’s still a part.
Of course, this isn’t really a poem for racists. This isn’t an open letter to the KKK. This isn’t an appeal to white supremacists.
This is a poem about how racism is upheld:
Through our action, but more often through our inaction.
Through not just the broken law; but the law.
Through not realizing that willing ignorance can be just as damaging as willing hatred.
Through our allowing a gavel to be as loud as an explosion.
Through a white frat member in blackface “because it’s funny” and his friend, who knows it’s wrong but doesn’t say anything.
Through our saying “I don’t see color,” as if pretending to be blind is going to fix the problem.
Through our saying “We all have an equal opportunity if we just work hard enough,” when black employees are passed over for a management job despite their qualification.
Through our saying “Black lives matter,” when there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.
Through our not saying something.
Through our silence.