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
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.
About the author
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.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Easy to read and follow
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