Are You Okay?

We went out one evening for a picnic,

But you already decided that it would be him that you would nitpick.

I was enchanted by summer’s darkness,

Yet you remained transfixed on the darkness

Of his skin.

You thought that my white skin made us akin.

 

You rolled over in your squad car

While we were simply admiring a night star.

Three of you came over grinning, approaching steadfast.

“What seems to be going on here?” one of you asked.

 

“I got out late from work and my girlfriend decided to

Surprise me with a picnic,” he told you.

“What an odd time for a picnic,” the officer retorted.

At that moment, my chest became contorted.

 

I realized a change in your tone

Once your flashlight shone

At him and revealed what you were unable to tell apart

In the darkness. Without vision, your eye

Cannot see what color separates him from I.

Yet in the light you were able to see

The darkness of his skin next to me.

In the light I was able to see

The darkness of your mind and your heart plagued by a black sea.

Yet only one of these dark things would cause

Harm, the effect of this cause.

 

You see, I thought light was meant to be enlightening,

Instead officers, the light you were in enlightened me; you were the ones who were frightening.

 

You all walked over to examine our possessions, each one separate.

Some poorly made sandwiches, and chips for an evening date.

I remember thinking this idea was incredibly cute.

Yet as you searched our blanket laid out, I began to feel quite acute.

You picked up the water, “This is water right?”

He nodded his head yes, but you had to hear it from someone white.

Yes, officer the water is clear

And it is clear to me that colors are important to you all here.

After finding nothing, you seemed dissatisfied

Because you already had him classified.

Yet that’s the funny thing about nothing, there is not one thing.

But you wanted a particular something

(Yet nothing means none)

Because you had your mind on a particular someone.

 

You flashed your light directly at me

“Are you okay?” you asked, only me.

As if he was guilty for being near me.

As if it was illegal for him to love me.

During this whole intervention

You may have thought you had a good intention,

But that bullet left me immobilized

Because the possibility of me being in danger was a general lie, no sir, you generalized.

 

An image flashed before my eyes of you

Cuffing him because you could do

That.

Because to you he was a doormat, and I would be your welcoming mat.

When in reality I would have to watch helplessly

Because you see officers, you could not be any less helpful.

 

I did not feel endangered until I knew that he

Was in danger, because of me.

Because it is dangerous for a black man

To be with a white woman.

 

“Are you okay?”

No, I am not okay.

Because this system is not okay.

Because society is not okay.

Because I am not okay

Living in a world in which this happens every day

On levels much more extreme than this,

In ways that people try to dismiss.

 

Now let me ask you officer, are you okay?

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