Numbers: Poetry & Data on American Blackness

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*Statistical data obtained from @blackbythenumbers on Instagram*

Whiteness weaponizes the

long arm of the law

the law draws weapons

at Black bodies

discharges firearms and

before you know it

a Black body is sketched

as a chalk outline

*in an instance*

all a Black family inherits

are memories of a loved one

once a mosaic of

endless possibilities

now a river of rouge

spilling about the scene

of a crime that became

criminal when the

public servants arrived

to deny a Black body

breathing rights

Whiteness utilizes police

as its personal concierge

& with the speed of 911

will schedule a Black body

to be bullet-filled

bagged

& dropped off to

the furthest reaches

of its fears

And for every Black body

that survives the false alarm

of white fragility

a small piece of our

humanity perishes

a slither of freedom

becomes ghost

and we recognize that

this still alive version of death

is but a slow descend

to a final destination

shoveled by our

stolen liberties.

Blackness be like

hypertension

heart disease

diabetes

be like don't use all that grease

but also we all gotta die someday

be like that doctor don't know

what he talkin bout

which is code for

that doctor ain't attuned

to my agony

because he ain’t a vet

and my biology too animal

for his area of expertise

be like this light bill or this check-up?

be like try to sleep it off and

*fingers crossed*

the rest won’t

end up permanent

be like this insurance is killin’ me

but also I can’t feel my feet

be like my mama had that

my grandma had that

my uncle, my cousin, my Tee Tee

had that, I guess it just run

in my blood

be like I can’t get tha Corona

because pre-existing conditions

because environmental racism

because food deserts

because apparently my whole

family told the same lie

every time we informed a

health care provider what

was disrupting our slumber

because health is wealth

and generationally we have

migrated from paycheck to

the office of collections

So, why bother

we all gotta die someday, right?

right? Right?!

(flatline on monitor ends scene)

I’m tryna do it for

the Gram or

Tik Tok

or YouTube

or for the retweets

I’m tryna go viral

or be memed or

be the GIF that keeps on giving

or make the headlines

I’m tryna break the internet

or break myself open

to be noticed

tryna to prove Ralph Ellison

to be a liar

ain't nothin invisible here

I’m live and in

living color

I’m live and

a person of color

I’m live and colored

and the Black(s)

and you people

and thug

and the n-word

and…

I’m tryna see myself

somewhere besides the courtroom

tryna see my name plastered

somewhere other than

the obituary section

tryna read a good word

or watch a feel good

hue-man interest news story

about someone who

darkens under the

summer sun like I do

so I’mma keep on scrolling

until I find my good side

until the cameraman catches

all angles of who I truly am

until them writers stop

fragmenting my narrative

I got time today & everyday.

The papers say

they bout to capitalize

the (B)lack

and I say

I have never minimized

the value of this identity

never lived as a lowercase human

always knew this skin

this speech pattern

this worldview & full-throated laughter

& ingenuity & resilience

was something to revel in

Always knew this big B Blackness

was a lighthouse to the world

regardless of how obsidian

it was in appearance

always knew I was

a descendant of the

planet’s moral compass

and that we would chart

the path home for

a lost world.