A Treatise On The Effects Of Casual And Unconscious Racism In Words Of One Syllable

Originally posted 12/9/2013.

I stop in shock,
stand like stone.
Here, now,
in this speck of time,
stop in this bad place
to ask:

Did he just say what I think he said?  
Did she just do 
what I think she did?

Would have thought 
each of them
was smart,
had learned,
had heart.

Just found out
I was wrong.

Now I must go back
and think of how much
I in fact do know,
how much I in fact
am sure of,
think of what I have heard,
what I have seen;
then I have to 

build a wall,
fill a moat, 
keep a watch
I hope will end
some day. 


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

2 responses to “A Treatise On The Effects Of Casual And Unconscious Racism In Words Of One Syllable

  • Eileen

    Note: The friend was a Junior League volunteer at the hospital.

  • Eileen

    Grew up being taught that racism was ignorance.(Ignorance was the mortal sin in our family.) Then our house was bombed in the 1950’s because my newspaper editor father had endorsed the first ever African American candidate for the Houston,Texas school board. My prejudice against prejudiced people began then. In the 1960’s when one of my country club friends came home incensed because she had been asked to carry a newborn African American baby out to their car, I finally had to find a way to work for civil rights. So, in the 60’s I worked for the NAACP and was there when the Poor People’s March came through Nashville.

    But later in the late 1970’s, I realized how much unconscious prejudice I had absorbed from the culture when teaching in a junior high school in a small rural town in Tennessee. I had a black student who not only spoke with a British accent, but had an incredible vocabulary for any age in our town! Every time he spoke, I did a double take, hopefully not overt, just mental. In later years I told a black friend jokingly, “That’s white of you,” before I finally heard what that saying meant!!

    My grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s birthday parties and close friends include African Americans, children wearing burka’s from India, and are learning Spanish from their Latin American friends. Miracles do happen.

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