Dear Black History (Poem)

I wrote this poem for my church’s newsletter and I wanted to post it up on my personal blog (you can read the Safe Haven, which I also write, here: shnewsletter.wordpress.com):

DEAR BLACK HISTORY

Dear Black History,

I’m sorry

I’m sorry for never taking the time
–to learn about you
For ignorantly thinking
They would let you into our schools
And then when they removed the few
–traces of you we had
From our textbooks
I complained about it
But still
I chose not to speak up because let’s
–be honest
I wasn’t reading any of that stuff
Anyhow

Dear Black History,

I apologize

I beg your forgiveness
For neglecting you
I went from looking forward to
–something
Other than Valentine’s Day
To having you become
A mere afterthought
As I hear myself say,
“Oh yeah…
It is our month, huh?”

Dear Black History,

Pardon me, I beg you, please

I am so self-righteous
In all my false claiming
Proclaiming to be such an advocate
–for the preservation
Of your memory
Your essence
But it’s all so pretentious
I’m dilettante
And it’s obvious
Because I don’t even bother to go
–and research for new material
I just stick to those faithful few
Those few that get people to
–stirring
Rosa, Maya, MLK, Malcomb…
You know,
The usual
And still
I don’t give the people something
They didn’t already know
I just regurgitate, reword
Plagiarize and replay
While I try to make myself look very
–well-studied in the ways
Of who you are
When in reality
I still don’t know you

Dear Black History,

I am ashamed
And I am guilty of thinking
That just because of my skin’s
–pigment and hue
That this
Is enough
I look in the mirror
And I tell myself, “That’ll do,”

I hear my peers
And become enraged
When they dismissively say things
Disrespecting you
While dissing you
Still upholding the status quo
The stereotype
But all I can be is silent
Because I am a victim of my own
Stupidity
Stupidly
I say you are important
And yet I have pushed you aside
All the while wondering
As they slowly erase you away,
As we do things
That make your creators
Roll in their graves,
God, I say, God
What on earth
Will I pass on down to my children?
What shall I be able to give them
If anything?

So to you, Black History,
I am sorely grieved by my offenses
–toward you
And I am sorry
For my cowardice
My willingness to stay in the dark
My failure to keep you alive

And yet
You are still living

So to you I promise
I will take the time
To learn of you
Going beyond those standard pioneers
And discovering those figures
Great and small
I’ve never heard of before
In every field

Because I say it matters
And it does
Black History, you do matter
And your beauty runs through me
It is in fact
Skin deep
Therefore to reject you,
Is to reject myself

I yearn to go beyond the surface
Of settling for the only history I know
Stopping at my epidermis

Dear Black History,

You deserve better

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