They “They took something from me”


Kereisha Biggs

By: Kereisha Biggs 

They

“They took something from me”

That was the first thing he said when I met him

A little boy with tight coils in his hair

That was his response

When I asked him why he was there

 

He was a stranger

But I recognized something familiar in his eyes

His power, his fight

Had to battle systems that told him

“No, not like that. Please dim your light” His potential, his drive

Had to battle systems that told him

“No, not like that. Not if you want to stay alive.”

 

We met on a road that leads to nowhere When I asked him, “What’s your name?” He shrugged his shoulders

And sighed before he exclaimed

“What’s the purpose of a name,

If we’ve been conditioned to answer

To the labels they gave? What’s the purpose of a name,

If we’ve been fed so many stereotypes

We’ve even begun to crave

The very same cycles

That give evidence to what they say?”

 

The quiet was very loud

When I asked him, “Where is your home? He shook his head slightly,

“Can’t you see we’re on the same road? They took something from us.

 

Where is our history?

And please don’t show me a textbook

I want the narrative we write

Where slavery and Jim Crow laws

 

Are not the only things by which we are defined

We’ve made legends, inventions

Movements and songs

We’re yearning to belong

But do we really know the roots we come from?

 

Where are our fathers?

Who were separated and unable

To save their families from traumas in the past

So some are absent in the present

Bcuz being a daddy is a good thing

But they saw that good things don’t last

 

Where is our youth? Where kids can be kids Without statistics attached Where we’re not condemned

For living on that side of the tracks

I can walk by a cop car, hands in pocket

Without feeling a stare behind my back

 

Where is our confidence?

Where we won’t need a hashtag to prove that our lives do matter

Where I won’t mistake backhanded compliments for genuine flatter

‘You speak so eloquently—for a black boy’

‘You dress so elegantly—for a black girl’

 

Where is our normality?

Keep your privilege if you will

But don’t strip me of my humanity

I’m not a burden

That you must feel obligated to fix

I am your equal, your counterpart

God simply used a different colour for my skin

I struggle to fathom

How that is used to judge me

For what is within

Our innocent until proven guilty?

 

Where’s our representation

In society’s images of beauty?

 

Where is our culture, Without exploitation?

The sensitivity to discern misappropriation?

 

So what’s the purpose of my name, When they look at us and think:

Oh yeah, they’re all the same

They—they—they took something from me”

 

I had to stop him as we went on our way

And ask, “Please tell me, tell me who are they? Do you spend so much time looking back

That you fail to see we’ve come a long way?

 

I know there’s still progress to make There are things we’ve been robbed of Things we have lost

But I know a Scripture that says “You shall recover all” They—they—they

Won’t reimburse us the costs

 

They—they—they

Don’t give them too much credit

Whatever it is

You

Go back and get it

He asked me, “Where would I even start?”

So I looked at the boy with tight coils in his hair Who somehow made this road lead to somewhere And I asked him again, “What is your name?”

 

“Kereisha Biggs is currently pursuing a double major in English and Linguistics at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. She is passionate about her faith, the language arts and making meaningful connections with others.”