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After the Black

by Rhea Carmon 21 days ago in performance poetry
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Poetry

After the Black

There are few things that are obvious from a first glance at me

The most obvious is that I am black

And I suppose you could stop there

You could allow that to put a wall between you and I

Or you could see it as an immediate connect with me

Whichever you choose, I fear that you will have only scratched the surface of my essence

What will you do after the black?

After you have judged whether I match or clash your perception

Following that initial reaction, will you care to know my story?

Because you can’t know immediately that I identify as a heterosexual

You can’t know that I am married with children

That I wish daily that my children could meet the man that raised me

And climb into his lap to call him Pops

That my mother speaks to me every time I cross her mind because her spirit is connected to me

And she is my first hero

There is no way for you to to know, I see the world in poetry and numbers

Because they are real and tangible

I express my love in one of these two ways to every person in my life

What will you miss if you never make it past the black?

How many hugs that can change your day or mood will you miss out on?

How much inspiration and strength will you fail to ever see?

How many problems will you never solve?

How much understanding will you miss?

How much love?

If you only see me as a comrade or foe, have you truly looked?

I am broken by the people that spread hatred through their gaze

Judging, pulling triggers or closing doors

Forgetting to see human before difference

Spreading lies and division without first thinking golden

Finding reasons to remove a story by only looking

Skin Deep

Religion Deep

Party Deep

Sexuality Deep

Paycheck Deep

For whatever you have chosen your black to be

What will it take for you to see after it

To see one another as humanity

To know that somebody has loved or been loved by another

Looked up at the same sky and seen the same sun

Gazed into the night and shared the same stars

Closed their eyes to sleep or die and met the same darkness

We are all looking for the light

Looking through mirrors to see ourselves as more

Than just a list of black that somebody may not accept

I’ve learned to love myself

My dark skin and coiled hair, I find power in its energy

I don’t always fit in where it seems I should

I keep quiet on issues until I can write about them

I struggle to let people in to love me, but I give love freely

Trusting that I will never run out of love for myself

I fight my body against its attempts to break down daily

I am a survivor of more than this blackness

My father taught me that I was black and beautiful

Making sure that I understood there is more after the black

There is beauty deeper than this melanin

I will never allow myself to stop there

Or even see it as a weakness or flaw

It is me as much as my quirky personality

And belief in God without limitations

It is the understanding that I am made in that image

And I have no limitations

I am creation made perfect, just the way I am

So I embrace the flaws and imperfections

The hard days and the glorious transitions

There is nothing wrong with any part of who I am

Every attribute is marked with part of what exist

I am beautiful beyond the black

I am mother earth with treasures in my words

Giving birth to lightning, oceans, and fire

There is prophesy in my gardens

My father named me Rhea, calling me to motherhood

I am more than that initial glance

And you will never know until you see me

After the black.

performance poetry

About the author

Rhea Carmon

Rhea Carmon, also known as RheaSunshine, is a motivational speaker, spoken word poet, organizer, and teaching artist. Rhea is the Poet Laureate for the City of Knoxville, TN, and Executive Director for the 5th Woman Poetry Collective.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (16)

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  • Slime Marie16 days ago

    🧿🙏🏻🌹

  • Moe Radosevich16 days ago

    there’s an after the after, love your story, feel free to read mine,

  • srinivasan16 days ago

    Your article is very nice and I wish you to continue writing like this.Please feel free to read my articles and share your comments. I kindly request you to follow me. https://vocal.media/poets/love-couples

  • Emeka Nwankwoala17 days ago

    Really good and fine

  • LIMA17 days ago

    Outstanding Poetry!!

  • Kendall Defoe19 days ago

    Those walls can be hard to cross. I like this one very much.

  • Marie Jones 19 days ago

    Beautiful... just Beautiful!

  • Dee Morrison20 days ago

    This is beautifully written, powerful and speaks so much truth. People who don't see past race breed so much ignorance and your poem demonstrates how much beauty and love they are missing out on because of the barrier that is their hateful views. I look forward to reading more of your work! 😊😊

  • Wow...thank you so much for the love. I poured my heart into this poem and your reception of it has made me so happy I shared it.

  • Savannah Sveta20 days ago

    Such a beautiful, powerful poem. Thank you so much for writing and sharing.

  • Shaun Walters20 days ago

    The lyric video is amazing, thank you!

  • Troi McAdory 20 days ago

    Thank you sharing this. I identify with your words as I am also Black. That’s a great question you ask and it even made me think. It was insightful and I hope those who read it can truly understand and appreciate you as a person and a Black person

  • I love this so very much, I can't describe how much I appreciate it. The language you use is brilliant; it is eloquent. Beyond words, this poem is powerful.

  • Brilliant - so powerful. X

  • Morgana Miller21 days ago

    Wow, I could absolutely hear voice in every syllable, I bet this is stunning when performed as spoken word. So much emotion and power, I am moved ♥️

  • Susanne T Holt21 days ago

    You have expressed my thoughts so well! Yes, we see the outside of a person first...we can't help that...but to go beyond and get to really know someone ---that's where I like to go.

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