Arrington E.

Know Your Place

“Nigger”
N-I-G-G-E-R
Word spat out like baseball boys in the the dugout
White boy said it so casually it took me a moment to realize
“Nigger”
I asked my friend to stop
The word fell on virgin ears
I never heard it out loud in anger
Spoken with venom
So bitter, it burned

N-I-G-G-E-R
tasted like poison
Tasted like oppression
His words felt like black tar boiling, scalding, but not on the surface.
it was a deep burn
(an anger inherently passed down from my ancestors)
The moments after he passed were white feathers that left me lookin’ like a fool
A circus creature
Humiliated
Terrified

but a part of me was flattered
After growing up in a community with few people that looked like me, being called what I am
was rare.
I “acted too white” to be black but was always too black to ever be white.
Even my family unknowingly stripped me of my blackness

“Nigger”
An unwarranted wake up call that my melanin was recognizable,
That running from my blackness was no longer an option
That I couldn't keep walking through this world without acknowledging my first
disadvantage in
the system.
That when cops pull up at a cookout because of a noise complaint
I am again black girl.
I am again “what’s that in her hand?!”
Again “Don’t she know she black?”
Again “Stop talking so white.”I am again an alien in my own culture

A nigger
Walking down the street in my favorite city on a summer night

Jason Carney