What do you see

What Do You See? (poem)

What do you see
when you look at me?

Do you see an ebony brotha
full of potential?
The hope of a family
aspiring for credentials?
A first generation
college student,
learning from the past,
to improve future prudence?

Or do you see my casual attire,
you might call preppy?
Another white-washed brotha,
in need of black therapy,
circlin’ for “The Man’s” scraps
like a sold out vulture,
a shame of a black man
who doesn’t know his culture?

What do you hear
when you listen to me?

Do you hear the voice of a man
striving for education,
not the one propagated in schools,
but of the realities in our nation?
Do you hear the pursuit of grammar
used with perfection,
that can flip just as easily
once class or work is out of session?

Or do you hear the voice
of one more corny brotha,
who must not like sistas,
cause he’s a pink toe lover?
One who tries to sound proper
whenever he talks,
and strolls a little too straight
with no swag in his walk?

What do you feel
When you touch me?

Do you feel the pain I carry,
like the rest of my race?
A man of tears,
hidden behind a proud face,
who endures the same struggles
as anyone else,
and would lift an entire people
at the expense of himself?

Or do you feel black skin
that’s white underneath,
a man about as black
as the color of his teeth?
An Oreo, a sell out
a Clearance Thomas,
an Uncle Tom who makes it clear,
he is a brotha without promise?

If you truly see me in that way,
then for you, I have some words to say…

Can you even define what it means,
to be black enough?

Do I need to prove I’m tough
or wear my hat banged to the side?
Do I need the loudest sounds
in back of my ride?
Should I sag my pants loose,
wear skinny jeans too tight?
Should limit who I date
if their color is too bright?

Do I need to lease cars
I can barely afford,
or know who performed
on the BET Awards?
Should I really pay
to hear other men brag about,
how much money they made from me
when their last album sold out?

Should I floss the biggest
stud in my ear,
and claim respect from others
by gaining their fear?
Should I morph my image
into a thug-life front,
or a life proud of pimpin’
and rolling blunts?

And for the sistas who were unattracted
because they needed a roughneck,
I never understood a man to be defined
by how well he keeps you in check
Is a man wrong to love you
with all he possesses,
and respect your status
as Nubian princesses?

The ghetto life is not
the only life I care to see,
I know God has much more
in store for me
I haven’t turned on my culture
or quit being black,
the music of our culture
does not define where we’re at

When did we stop defining our culture,
and the culture begin defining us?
When did hip-hop become more relevant,
than Rosa’s resolve to stay on the bus?
The scorn of some facets within my community,
will not discourage my desire for unity
Being black is not a status I can pick up or drop,
for the threatened will view us the same, whether you accept me or not

By Corey Dorsey

Image by Bigboytony

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