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The Skin I'm In

I WILL NEVER GET THE CHANCE to say that I am free because the shackles are

now handcuffs and I’m labeled as a thief, and why? Because I’m Black, you

see? I can’t shake the shadow off, and the rules got me beat.

The rules? The rule that Black ones are weak, the rule that Black kids are

dumb kids, and that one’s very neat.

And we don’t try to prove them wrong. It’s like we’re singing the same song

over and over, but we got the tune all wrong. We march and we yell, we stay

up late at night and raise hell, but the white man can’t hear us. His ears are

covered up well.

They stereotype . . . stereotype us all, and the unnecessary violence is really

gonna make us fall. We’re at the bottom of the food chain, and they’re killing

us all. One by one, drop by drop, another Black man falls.

You see, America? They say that all of us are free . . . but if I really was free, I’d be able to walk the damn streets without a man dressed up in blue out here questioning me. They say that education is key, but is that message really for me?

’Cause I can see it in their eyes, their expectations of me. When I say Black

. . . what really comes to mind? Black women, single mother with seven

kids behind. Wow . . . and she always provides. No matter what the people

said, not ONE of us was ever left behind.

My momma raised me well, despite being put through hell, and that’s why I

try my best to always do well.

But you belittle me. Yes, I said it . . . you belittle me because the skin I’m inis clearly an issue to society. BLACK, B-L-A-C-K, BLACK. They look at me with pitiful eyes, now let’s raise up a glass. See, once again, another Black man’s life is gone. The police once again are not put in the wrong,

and that’s just wrong.

So rage . . . rage is building up within me. I can’t stand the fact that my people are slowly becoming extinct.

They view us as animals . . . animals walking these streets. Animals that

need to be gunned down, and you sit back and you peep, the attitudes, of

these nasty police. They look at us and they sneer. You can see the smirks

on their cheeks, and I’m scared. I don’t even know my family tree. Not

knowing where I came from makes me feel very weak, but one thing for

sure is the color of my skin is the color that’s a CRIME. It’s the skin that I

am in . . . BROWN, BLACK, RED, YELLOW, AND WHITE. I don’t see the difference, and I don’t see why we fight. “ALL LIVES MATTER.” See, that for sure is a fact, but the Black lives are the targets, the ones the white man quickly

rejects. Shots fired around his neighborhood, now my good friend’s gone,

rest in peace to Trevvy tonight. I’ll be singing our song. You see . . . this is

really bugging me. Please tell me, What did I do to you to make you even

hate me?

“Hey, Black child,” I say to the next. Please know that you are something

special despite the pigmentation on your chest. You’re worth MORE. You

can make it anywhere. Even become the president, as you can see Obama’s


I pass this message to the next, then put my feelings to rest . . . praying that

one day Black lives will stop being oppressed.

Because Black is the skin that I’m in.

The skin that the children are in.

The skin that our brothers and sisters are in.

Black is the skin that I am in, and I’m telling you now that Black . . . is not

a sin.

Poem: LUCY ALLENE TROY-SMITH has a passion for writing: “I’m growing up in a regular home with a loving, supportive family. I like to write. I write all the time.”

Photo: WING YOUNG HUIE, Saint Paul, Minnesota, from the University Avenue Project (2007-2010)


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