Masks

I am a statistic you find

in a white mans textbook

that he dedicated to his children

who will never see my struggle

he is classically trained in “woke”

he used my blood

to write his dissertation

the sign in front of his white picket fence

exclaims “Black Lives Matter”

in carefully curated fonts

this morning

̶h̶e̶’̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶c̶k̶ he pricked himself

trying to fasten his safety pin

he sees young black boys

walk through Red Apple after school

and half smiles at them

to compensate

for his first thought

which was that they were stealing

he loves his black students

until they try to contradict his lessons

he wonders why they aren’t interested in learning their own history

especially when he worked so hard to write it

at night before bed

he looks in the mirror

and makes a strong effort to convince himself

that he is not racist

he tells himself he is one of the “good guys”

he tells himself he is fighting the good fight

Sleeps soundly in the night

While my mother lies awake

he is a white male professor

i am a young black memory

to his family, he is father and son

to mine, i am gone too soon

he and i are human

but only one

will live to tell the story

his story

my story

to him

I am evidence

Who am I to you?