Black And Happy - Poem by Javon Johnson
On the night they decided not to indict Darren Wilson
for the cold-blooded murder for Mike Brown.
My body, a well-framed riot chose not to protest.
Instead like any good choir director, I shut down everything and demanded a better harmony.
The protest were in a part of Oakland I walked to near everyday.
But, on that night I closed my windows because
I could not deal with another choir lifting the rafter about more black death.
I did not want to feel sad or angry.
I didn't want white supremacy to tell me how to feel yet once again.
That night I cut off all my lights, because black was the only God i knew worth praying too.
I asked if Jesus beat a black woman.
Said the only black people I knew who could turn that small amount of food into feasts are big mommas.
We laugh, we joke, we about about bones and spades
about how all the old black men I know who smoke menthols know how to fix carburetors.
We marvel about how creative black kids are.
Said they must be.
This world ain't never been safe so they built new ones out of scrap paper, bones, and possibilities.
That night I danced on beat which is to say I chose to be happy and black.
And how political that choice was.
How political that choice always is.
The first time I ever saw a man shot to death
his arms flailing wildly like he was dancing for a God he knew he was about to see
what an unholy prayer his body was.
His arms were all in the wrong direction,
but this poem cannot be about black death.
It is about how on that night we listened to Tupac.
We tried to imagine heavens ghetto,
corner stores draped in gold,
little girls playing double dutch and Him still dancing.
The following morning I called my mother,
because black is still the only God I know worth praying to.
I wanted her to know her baby boy was still black
and still alive
and how political our phone calls are.
How political my phone calls with my mother always will be,
but this poem but this poem cannot be about politics,
cannot be about so-called black on black crime,
cannot be about police brutality
or state sanctioned black death this poem has to be about black joy.
It has to be about fish-fries and cookouts.
It has to be about a place
where all the little black kids know all the dances even before they come out.
It is about how on some days
the most revolutionary thing I can do is enjoy my nieces laughter.
How their brown faces bubble like good fried bologna sandwiches
and ain't that like the black shit ever y'all.
This poem is about how when my brother came home from a tour in Iraq
the first thing we did was make fun of each other we laughed then we said I love you.
It is about how when Tamir Rice was gunned down
black people banned together to lift his mother out of the homeless shelter she had been living in.
It is about how when my aunt laid there in her death bed,
waiting for the cancer to try and make a liar out of her own body
she sat there and cracked jokes
you cannot kill blackness.
Too much of it is wrapped in unshakable joy,
and ain't that why they think we magic in the first place.
That despite every reason not to we still smile.
We still laugh.
We still love.
We still black y'all.
Topic(s) of this poem: black african american, happiness, joy, police brutality
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