Look Around

Dr. Patrice Baptiste returns to Black History Month to share with us her Poem; 'Look Around'.

The colour of my skin should not dictate how I am treated,
Nor should my beliefs or my religion,

My hair style should not deter an employer from hiring me,
Nor should it be the basis for any jokes where I work,
With so many versatile styles for my thick curly hair why should I hide it away?
Why should I be looked at differently because I choose to wear my hair in braids?

You state that you are “not a racist” and that you are “not prejudiced”,
But even without you knowing, subconsciously, unconsciously you treat me differently, just a little bit,
Your racism is implied in your tone, it is hidden by the subtlety of your movements and your body language,
Your jokes do not include me- in fact they are about me,
They are about my culture, my beliefs and my heritage,

My attitude to you is aggressive, belligerent and unfriendly,
Why am I always frowning? Why am I always so angry?
When I raise my voice and gesticulate with my hands I am not expressing myself,
No, I am posing a threat to you, for I am an angry black woman or man,

Do not take the time to understand us,
Do not take the time to research that many of the things you associate with your culture, your race are in fact derivatives of ours,
Do not stop for a minute to remember, that in fact you came and stood on our land,
Do not remember,
Instead let us forget all the obstacles we have had to surmount,
Too many injustices for me to even count,

We see it, you see it, only you choose to ignore it,
Young black people are being gunned down because they dress a certain way, because they look a certain way, because they are black?!
It seems so unreal, but my friends we know this is a fact,
Why should I be silenced?
Nothing here is a lie,
I am choosing not to ignore the unacceptable levels of violence against my beautiful black people caught up in this nonsensical fight,

Even with all of this opposition against us, we as a people still cannot unite,
Instead of supporting each other we are killing each other?!
Instead of loving one another we are hating each other?!
Instead of being happy with each others’ accomplishments we ask ourselves “how did they get that? They don’t deserve that?”
We covet without thinking,
We do not listen for understanding,
Why don’t we think “maybe that person has two or even three jobs”, they are doing what they think is best for their family,
“Maybe they are trying to escape a world they’ve always known without any opportunities”,
I have a big house and an expensive car with an apple watch, apple mac and apple iphone too,
Do you know how hard I worked to afford those louboutin shoes?
I’ve woken up at 5am every single morning in order for me to take my children out of a life where they would experience such high levels of crime,

One person can make a difference and so here I am, I will not conform to society’s unspoken rules,
I’ll make my own,
Even if I have to walk alone,

I will not be brought down by the negative energy of those who do not understand my culture,
I will not be kept down by those who choose to use the past as an excuse for their failures,
Instead I will rise up and as I do I will bring like minded individuals along with me too,
I will give hope to those who thought they could no longer carry on,
I will restore their faith in humanity by not retaliating to profanities shouted at me from across the street,
I will try my best to stay open minded and not to be blinded by the hatred painted on my T.V,
All it takes is one person to make a difference and I want that one person to be me.