Poetry

Language of the Unheard

Julia Mellen

Baltimore burns, White reporters smirk: “What would Martin Luther King say?”

Racism is dead, Obama is president. If my biracial son saw a cop, freaked, sprinted, surely his throat wouldn’t be smashed, his spinal cord snapped. Suppose he wore a hoodie, went for Skittles and tea. Surely no one would shoot him.

There but for the grace of…

White-like-me people tsk tsk, shake heads: “What about Black on Black crime?” “Why do they burn their neighborhoods down?” “Why don’t they–?”

Why do they say they?

“I’m not racist, I have Black friends.”

My uncle was a cop, shocked I voted for Harold Washington: “They” were taking over. Now Maya Angelou poetry sings by his bedside.

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