by Kerry Johanssen
Black People & White People Were Said
to disappear if we looked at
each other too long
especially the young ones —
especially growing boys & girls
the length of a gaze was
as a king snake
eyeing a copperhead while hands
of mothers and fathers gently
tugged their children close
white people & black people were said to
disappear if but nobody ever said it
loud nobody said it
at all & nobody ever
talked about where
the ones who didn’t listen
There are some things we just hate to talk about.
Maybe in the name of being “peaceful,” maybe in the name of policing the tones of others, sometimes the overwhelming urge is for everyone go get along and be “nice.” But, racism, unfortunately, isn’t nice. And it’s hard to dismantle a system of oppression if no one ever talks about it.
One of Tech Boy’s favorite phrases in college – as he debated professors to frustrated frothing – was that he was on hand to ‘disturb the comforted, and comfort the disturbed.’ Mind you, I sat as far away from him as I could whilst he cut his swath through our humanities department, but I’ll admit that though he gave me hives, he was right about a lot of things. Not all of us are able to speak up when necessary, but as always, especially this year, I’m grateful for those who are articulate and incisive; who take no prisoners and who suffer no fools. Blessed are the uncomfortable; may we, in discomfort, grow.