81. Preconceived Notions

Author: Yasmeen Grandison, Sophomore

I know the work of the evil man
I know his doings and his language
With those words he leaves dark bruises in my head
With those words he unleashes invisible biting spiders that torment me like hundreds of bad thoughts in my wake and in my dreams

These pains are like roots growing out of my back
Bloody roots that extract more and more out of me until I’m nothing but the dirt I was once was
This language torments me more than his foot deep in my back
These catchy tunes of bigotries stress me more than spit on my face. And they see that this hurts me…but continue

They stomp on me without knowing my name
They kick me without acknowledging my good works
They curse me without truly knowing me
They hate and despise me, but they don’t know what true hate is

The abhorrence that has grown for myself is far hotter than the lava that they spew from their tongue
Far heavy than the weight from both of their boots
This hate is more wild and large than space, which is infinite
They make me want to hide. But where would I go?

It is because of these words, this language, these actions, this inexperience, those snickers, this judgment, those sneers, these assumptions, this ignorance that I feel the way that I do.
The words last only seconds but why do I still itch from the bites of these spiders?
All the while I’ve done nothing but be me.

I once heard of a world where I could be anything
If I held my arms out and stood on a ledge—I could surely fly like a bird
If I dove in the bluest sea, water swallowing my whole body—I would be the prettiest fish
If I felt that I was smart and I was confident—would I not be gorgeous?

I once believed in a world that was as warm and beaming as the most polished sunset. A world that was as brilliant as any diamond.
No that world doesn’t exist anymore.
With your words of judgment and disapproval, my world became so dark so fast that I didn’t even see it coming—but you say it’s my job to change.

I don’t like to think badly of someone, but I see the evil in you.
I see the anger in your eyes, I hear the moodiness in your tongue, and I feel the misery in your soul. I forgive you.
I forgive you for hating me without seeking out the good in me
You resent me because of one example of evil.
You can’t hold me accountable for what my brother has done.
Don’t judge me for the same iniquity.
You abhor me but if you took time to know me you would love me

But I forgive you for your confusion
And I invite you to get to know me.
I invite every person who was quick to hate and slow to understand.
I invite the Klan’s member, the Nazi, the anti-gays, the pessimist, the extremist, the racist all the haters.

I invite you to comprehend me and appreciate my flourishing culture
My culture is one that recognizes no color that has no preference that practices no religion, but believes in the dearest part of affection that is love.

So I invite the skeptic to speak my robust language that is music to even the most clogged ears.
I invite the egoist to walk my fancy walk, dance my own dance, and feel what I feel.
For if you cannot feel and learn my slang you will be deaf and numb to every culture that you come in contact with.

So if you haven’t ever felt anything please try to understand me.
We can walk slow…
I love you and I refuse to walk your walk
I refuse to let you destroy my spirit and make me hate you

I know what it feels like to be hated.
It’s a hurt that penetrates through my ribs and past my heart
I feel it in a place that I never knew existed.
It’s an agony that throbs in the back of my head and destroys me like cancer

I refuse to let misery course through my body
I know the works of an evil man. I’ve seen him everyday
He passes by me and curses every inch that I walk
But I bless him because in time he will learn to know me

Notes: This is a poem in response to the racist behavior that I have experienced and have seen in my life.  It took me a long time to realize that hating the people that hated me was not the way. It is important to react with kindness and love even when people try to tear you down. It will not only help you keep your spirits up, but help that person who is living life hating people. They expect you to be angry and yell back, they don’t expect love. They will remember love. It sounds cheesy, but life is really too short to live hating people. I’ve learned the most life-changing things from people who were different from me. Having someone hate you and then hating them back just spurs more hate. If you react with love then that is just one less person living life in anger. I hope you understand. Thanks for reading my poem.

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