To You, A Beautiful Black Man

This is a poem that I wrote for one of my best friends in undergrad, where toxic masculinity runs free and a nerdy Black boy feels like he can’t shine… 

By Rhyann Robinson

I’m chillin
I laugh and just say “yeah okay” whenever he does that
But behind every syllable is an invisible shackles being tightened on his heart
They say he’s not allowed to feel
He must be strong, stern, and cool to the touch
Always chillin
He must be brain and brawn
Big and Brick
Soldier
Bicep and jackhammer
Fall in line
Be quarterback, catcall, man and machine
Be normal
Hyper-masculinity: The too small box, wooden and splintered, that imprisons the black male mind
But see, he’s not any of that
He is magnesium alloy: the strongest metal on the planet, but lighter than a dandelion’s seed
He is an enigma
He is fire and brimstone
But also Niagara falls
He is black and he is weird
He feels
But he is told to suck it up
Don’t be no bitch
Suppress it
Swallow all of the majesty that you hold and turn it into conformity
So that he can fit into that too small, wooden box that we as a society have been socialized to believe as an attainable reality.
But what they don’t know is that water does not hold shape very well
And fire burns houses down
But as of late, his fire has turned to ash and his water supply is low
He has become heavy yet hollow
He has come to college and started to harden from the inside out
His blood has turned from gold dust to iron filings
Dull and magnetic
He has been told that “There is no space for your kind of beautiful here”
His words, once hip hip melodies filled with Logic and Chance the Rapper lyrics, have turned into the somber blues of an invisible man
He is slowly transforming
Transforming into the invisible man that society has made him out to be
To fit in that too small, wooden and splintered box
“the dream rests on [his] back, the bedding made from [his] body.”
I want to tell him : “You do not have to be super human, even when you are expected to be”
I want to reach my hand out and ask how I can help
But I must tread lightly
I cannot push too hard or he will retreat back
And he will just say: “I’m good, I’m chillin”

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