If I Was White, I Wonder

by Eric Payne

if i was white,
			i wonder…
would you stare at me so coldly
with your eyes so blue?
			i wonder…

as i walk to my apartment,
would you look at me in bewilderment
when i pull out my keys to go inside
the building that i've been living in longer than you?
yeah, i remember seeing you when you moved in,
i wasn't dressed up that day.
you probably didn't notice me…
probably just thought i was deliverin' groceries,
or something like that.
			i wonder…

would you always bring up basketball
to break the ice when you first meet me?
would you try to remember some ebonic slang
you heard one day on some hip-hop song or tv
and then repeat it back to me wrong
as some kind of proof that you're down?
would you not even bother to consider
that maybe, just maybe, i don't talk like that,
even though of course "we" all do,"
and proceed to insult me with your callous ignorance?
would you look at me as the exception
because i have more education than you?
and then fear me for my accomplishments
behind closed doors?
and because i'm not loud, or happy-go-lucky
would you consider me angry and call me
ungrateful for some something, whatever it is
that you and this society think you afforded me,
that was rightfully mine since birth and before even then?
would you think that because i speak quietly
with my brotha at the office, i was startin' a c-o-n-spiracy
and would you label me a jerk?
			i wonder…

would i be so concerned with the common good?
would i advocate animal rights over human ones?
would i have even been remotely worried about
living to see twenty-one?
would i know word-for-word,
songs that glorify guns?
now that twenty-one has come and passed,
would i still have to shoot for forty thanks to a.i.d.s?
would i have a name besides "he," "him," and "that one"?
would i begin my misunderstanding with, "those people?"
would i learn the facts before i decide to hate?
would i be able to strike fear in your heart 
with a simple glance?
would i always have the best seat in the house
because you'd sit anywhere
before you had to sit next to me?
			i wonder…

when i walk down the block,
a whole block behind you,
would you turn and look, clutch your purse tightly
and walk faster, assuming i was a common crook,
with nothing better to do,
than to mess with you?
would you have your far off fantasies
about me being some kind of mandigo sex machine,
with a fiercesome, magical dingaling?
would you want to get with me just because ---
for love --- or just to see if that rumor was true?
i don't know --- tell me…would you?
			i wonder…

if i was white,
			i wonder…
would a million thoughts and fears
wrap themselves into one ball of confusion
bouncing up and down in your mind
causing you to react, to choose what you always do,
looking at me with that blank stare, as if i'm not even there?
or would you smile and say hello?
			i wonder…

If I Was White, I Wonder by Eric Payne

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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