People in the Chromatic

If You Could See What I Hear…


.The work of Marsalis was not written in any textbook.

I woke up this morning and decided to do a writing exercise: People like us who are of color beside people like us who are white. In word association. People like us — of color — are often considered mentally ill. People like us who are white are called genius. People like us who are people of color are called threats to society. People like us who are white? Brave. People like us who are people of color can easily be “in the wrong place, at the wrong time” even in our own neighborhoods. People like us who are white are adventurous. Explorers. Discoverers. People like us who are of color generally are confused. Our white counterparts, often, are creative. People like us — of color — are ill-advised. People like us — white — are mentored.

People like us who are of color are heretical. Heathens. People like us who are white are scientists. Doctors. People of color like us are criminal minded while people like us who are not are innovative. I mean, people like us who are white are considered innovative. The whole idea of “white versus black”, as you can see, is falling off the page.


People of color tend to lie. Even to each other. People who are white tend to think before speaking. People of color require special education and people who are white have imagination, so they get better learning instruction. We who are “of color” have ADHD. We who are white are accelerated.

Children of color who read and draw comic books are told, “Put that away! RIGHT NOW!!” Children who read comics are encouraged to draw. “Be creative.” I suppose this, by now, can be a bit confusing if you have not lived in a particular kind of skin. The sensitive kind.

Some children are observed as, “Does not pay attention in class,” while others are an “excellent demographic for a focus group.” People like us “do not read.” They? are a target audience. You see what just happened there? People like me are institutionalized, our art taken away. Who gets to be “eccentric”? People like them act in “self-defense”. People like us, “Might be murderers.” People like us need alibis. Some people have advocacy. People like us are a menace to society and must be constrained. What does a model citizen look like? People like “them” are pariahs. Social outcasts. Us? A beacon. Sunshine. Warmth in springtime. Light in winter. Word association players. “What is ‘reader response theory’ in practice,” you ask? Taking a good hard look at the world and doing something else about it. Where do we belong — people like us? Look in the mirror. Look outside. Think beyond. Who am I? Who are you ? This is a “stream of consciousness”…what I do when left to my own devices. You can see the handwritten pages if you like, but do they matter more than the words on the page? The thoughts? Or people like us — of color — when you sit down and think about it.

Do you read music? They hardly ever let us near pianos in childhood anymore when ‘we’ look like me, but what might that even sound like? Jazz?

Thanks for reading.