“Why does it always have to be so black with you?”* by Sam Sutlive
We had bears at the edge of our city.
We had them in our campgrounds and in our trees.
We had the kids who laughed at them.
The kids who ran.
The kids that fought them and shot them.
We tried relocating them with food trails,
Being careful with our trash.
It didn’t work.
They slept in the woods or the fields at night,
Then the next morning you would see em comin, those big black bears.
See the medium sized ones behind that and the babies behind that.
It kept reminding me of the birds flying at the World Trade Center**
The planes flying at the World Trade Center
A goofy less scary version of the twin towers but all threatening in some ways.
A lot of people left.
The Brownstones didn’t.***
They were the black folks on the block.
They believed in being part of the town,
They had been in the same building for three generations.
Believed that they could be accepted into and by society if they “blended in” by being quiet and fitting into the quote on quote white fenced happy smiling faced people lifestyle.
But that never worked.
It was in the mindset.
They believed they could fit into society.
But all they saw was black.
They did not and were not able to see an inner self.
An own identity out side of the fake white picketed fenced façade.
An own identity screaming to be developed.
Screaming to be let out.
They never went to the park to pick flowers for grandmas.
They never went to the theater.
They went to grocers,
And threw the Frisbees in the fields
Them in the yards and the abandoned lots.
If you asked them where they had gone,
They said Chicago or N.Y.
They said they went to the museums and the parks.
No one ever knew.
Some people said they stayed in the poorer side of town.
But who knows?
Every now and then we get some guy from some office trying to work with them.
They do not communicate well.
Argue they are black.
And do not even want social services,
No help from the outside,
No help from the inside.
Family boils with sameness.
One kid of the Brownstones branched out.
Went to a city in the west.
Became famous for two years.
Because he said he was black.
The people around him almost forgave him,
Ignored his little quirk.
Never could get away.
He saw the bears coming.
He saw the wave of black bears coming to get…
He died black:
In his mind,
He died black:
He died black:
*This is a similar question to the one the main actress in Finding Forrester asks the main actor. Good movie by the way if you have not seen it.
**There is a story someone wrote before 9/11 happened where a construction crew is building a skyscraper. They are eating lunch and a huge very wide wave of birds come flying towards them from the distance. It scares the construction crew and they leave. It is too bad but I have never been able to find the story again and do not remember the title.
*** The Brownstones are a family that is based on a fictional black family written by a black writer in the 1900s. The family that the Brownstones are based on fought a lot and actually saw themselves (literally and on a mental level) as black every time they looked in the mirror.
P.S. If you do not want to read the footnotes just ignore them. I feel compelled and responsible to credit things I am strongly referencing.
Written between 11:30ishp.m. and 1:023 p.m. on December 28, 2013 and 29, 2013. Posted 1:23