For White People
Cambridge Jenkins IV
YOU MAY READ, PRINT AND DISTRIBUTE THIS WORK AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE. HOWEVER, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE CREDIT FOR IT. I AM PRETTY SURE YOU HAVE INTERESTING STORIES OF YOUR OWN. SO GO WRITE YOUR OWN POETRY. THANKS. Published by CAMBRIDGE JENKINS IV Atlanta, GA 30318 WWW.REVENGEOFTHEPINKPONY.COM CJENKINSIV@GMAIL.COM Copyright © 2008 Written and Edited by Cambridge Jenkins IV Cover design Cambridge Jenkins IV E-Book design Cambridge Jenkins IV
I was riding down a windy, one-way street the other day – Confederate Avenue - the frail winter leaves barreling towards us in gangs and breaking against the cracked windshield. There was no one else around, only the peeling, hollow apartment buildings and the cool shadows of the spirits that used to eat there, fight there, love there. One of my best buddies was grumbling at the wheel, sucking slow, satisfying puffs of his black, clove cigarette. “Those things’ll kill ya,” I warned. “Not before the cops will.” He rolled me a pink, smoky eye. A quick voice flew past. “MOTHERFUCKER!” “Damn!” “What’s up?” I asked. “I almost got one,” he grinned, the cigarette gripped securely in the corner of his mouth. “What’s that?” “A White Man. I almost hit me a Cracker. You know, it’s fiiive hundred points for white people!” At that moment, I imagined staring anxiously through the windshield, watching a little black boy and a little white girl, hand-inhand, crossing Confederate Avenue legally. Watching, as my midnightskinned buddy speeds towards the blonde for a one thousand-point bonus. I imagined the creaky car making direct contact, shaking from the impact, sending a vital ingredient of an entire race’s future flipping gracefully into the air, and finally, the blonde, exploding into a fine, golden dust, a glittering cloud with 1000 miraculously branded upon it. The cloud disappeared and my daydream disintegrated, leaving me to battle with the reality of wondering about the true intentions of personified racism at the helm of a speeding hunk of metal. “No,” I answered. “I didn’t know that.” “In whose game?” “Oh. It’s not a game, man. Those Crackers deserve to be hit. All of ‘em…” “Now, why do they have to be all that - Crackers?” I turned my face to him. He attempted to rationalize his beliefs, but I just ignored him. His reasons were no reasons to be attended to. They were just like everyone else’s – meaningless unless backed by some political or cultural icon speaking for the spotlight, voicing concerns the public is already aware of,
but not actually doing anything to solve the problems. They only soothe the concerned. The reasons are meaningless, unless angrily written on someone’s big, white poster board in burning red permanent marker to represent only a fraction of the blood spilled from some enraged protestor whose poster was big enough, whose message was loud enough, but whose stake was neither dense enough, nor sharp enough at either of its ends to protect him from the detrimental advancements of his opposition. And even if some popular political or cultural icon aired him or herself before millions of supporters, enlightening them with the so-called truth, it wouldn’t matter because these days, most pop icons pop nothing but bullshit anyway. Steve carelessly rode over the speed limit, and too close to the sidewalk, and I sighed to myself and shook my head slowly in disappointment. I reclined and ran my weary fingers along the old Nissan’s armrest. I thought back to when I was at home a couple days prior, flipping through the television. I landed on a pretty, white face with pretty, golden hair and pretty, pink lips. The lips were all-knowing. They said, “I understand that they were once slaves in this country, but that was a long time ago. They should just get over it!” “You just need to get over yourself, and through your sugar-coated eyelids!” I yelled at the television. My buddy would have tossed a boulder at her face on the screen. “Five hundred points,” he would have smiled. Huh. Get over it… I thought to myself. Slavery was only the beginning. I thought about those video clips of the sixties, which I viewed with my classmates in the elementary school library. I remembered the intriguing field trips to the civil rights museums. I reflected on various headlines of the seventies, the eighties, the nineties. I still felt remnants of the shock of events from just a year ago in Jena, Louisiana, a couple of months ago at Columbia University, now! Injustice. Unsolved. Huh. Get over it? Fuck you, pretty, uneducated face on the television screen! Maybe my buddy was right, I thought.
I reclined a little more in the hard, rough car seat. Just couldn’t get comfortable now. Steve got me thinkin’ a little. He almost got me thinkin’ like him. But it was when suddenly, the car jerked back, then forward, and the tires screeeched against the pavement, and the windshield finally collapsed, and the driver’s-side headlamp finally got the jolt that it needed to fall out completely, and there, trapped, stuck under the shifted, cracked, jagged front bumper was a body. And there, on its back, lying awkwardly, peacefully, on the hood of the car with its fingers eerily folded into a peace sign protruding through a hole in the windshield and resting gingerly on my tender bloody nose, was a body, did I realize that life was not a game. There were no bonus levels or extra lives. There were no points for injuring people whom we assume hate us. There were no one-ups or bonus rounds for hating people whom we assume will injure us at any cost. It was then that I opened my eyes wide and realized the cultural, and sometimes popular, damage that we all had caused. At that moment, Steve and I had ended the lives of a little black boy and a little white girl, hand-in-hand, crossing Confederate Avenue legally. I realized that there really was no such thing as white people or black people. There was no need for the classifications, the profiling, the judgment. There were only people who loved, and people who did not.
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A tale of two African-mericans debating the issue of race.