If I Were a Black Man, I’d Be Dead.


If I were a Black Man, I’d be dead.

My anger would have turned to hot, molten lead,

Unable to control my temper,

Some frightened, ugly White man

Would have put a bullet through my head.

I see me, but you see something wild —

You see an animal; to you, all threat & fear;

No father, no mother, no family, no child;

Not human, you don’t want me anywhere near.

So you curse me, or shoot me,

Or kneel on my neck

Until I’m no longer here,

Which, to you, I never was.

If I were a Black Man, I’d have long lost my faith,

In justice or fairness — in all except hate.

I’d have long cursed Jesus,

Tongue-lashed him like Job,

Furious at my own self,

For seeking protection from His Robe.

My anger my refuge,

My fuse growing short,

I’d never again seek solace,

In church or in court.

If I were a Black Man,

I’d surely be dead;

I don’t want your pity,

When all you want’s my head.

I don’t want excuses,

Or blame for your mistakes;

Spare me your prayers

When its my life you want to take.

If I were a Black Man

I doubt I could contain my rage,

Or turn the page,

Or turn as little as a cheek,

To spare myself the “Mississippi God-Damned” pain.

I’d seethe and tear myself apart

Because I’m not as strong & smart

As real Black Men have to be,

In order to just…Be.

But, my skin, though swarthy,

Passes as “white,”

And my age, though full of rage,

Is mistaken for old,

Which makes me more dangerous

With a license to be bold,

Since I am expected to fight off death.

No, I am not a Black Man,

No knee upon my neck,

My voting rights unthreatened,

My protests go unchecked.

Still, I am “the other,”

Imprisoned by your side,

Like all my sisters & brothers,

I rage, and refuse to hide.

Yes, if I were a Black Man,

I’d be dead.

But, I am not.

And my anger

For your pain,

Is boiling hot.Steve Villano


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