I Too Am America by ABSW Alum Reginald Lyles
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
It inspired me to write:
I Too, am America
By REGINALD LYLES
I, no longer sing America;
I am weeping in America
I am still the darker brother,
Who once was sent to eat in the kitchen, when company comes . . .
I laughed grew strong and now I am President, I am Olympic champion, I am fortune 500 business CEO, I am academic president and professor, I am Nobel Prize Winner, I am astronaut, I am inventor, I am sports team owner, I am television network mogul, I am pastor, laborer, poet, painter, and priest. I am a father, mother, and child. Yes, I am Barak Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Catherine Hughes Serena and Venus, John Thompson, Alice Walker, Tyra Banks, Michael Jordan, Ervin Johnson, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Ken I. Chenault, and Ursula Burns.
But, I am the darker brother, who also is Oscar Grant, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Koryn Gaines, Tanisha Anderson, Terence Crutcher, and Tamir Rice.
America’s neo-slave catchers are hunting me in the streets and I have been given a death sentence. I am murdered regardless if my hands are up or not. I am choked to death regardless if I plead that I cannot breathe. I am murdered in the North, South East, and West, from Oakland to the Bronx, from Detroit to New Orleans, from Cleveland to San Francisco from Chicago to Los Angeles. My blood is illegally being wasted from my beautiful body.
Yes, I am beautiful: Black as night, smooth as satin, Brown as cafe au lait, and bright as lemon yellow. I am tall and muscular with rippling abs. I am curvy, powerful and thick that defines voluptuous. I am slender and sleek where clothes are made to drape. I am beautiful and sweet as the cabernet sauvignon grape.
But, they are trained to see my beauty as monstrous. What do they see –“Big and Black”? What does it mean to them? Be afraid . . . Kill … Kill!
So they hunt me and kill me, with their 9mm, behind their police badges and their disingenuous oath to protect and serve. Then they construct lies about the incidents and the lies are corroborated by more lies. They use every legal tactic to sequester the truth: Grand Jury Process, laws to prevent videotaping police arrests and activity, and delaying the investigations until the statute of limitations run out and Chief of police not telling District Attorneys of the crimes officers have committed (Sean Wendt and Nancy O’Malley). They tell us that the video depictions are invalid unless it substantiates their versions.
When we protest and beg for cessation. They claim we are thugs and unpatriotic or we should be concerned with Black on Black crime. They demand submission and that we make peace with their oppression. They bring forth some who look like us, but are more concerned with their endorsements or electability, or Church budgets to inform us that we are the blame for our bloodshed. Or they raise some foolish media distraction between Meek Mill and the Game!
They are not ashamed – but some of us should be.
They have made the spilling of our blood their right of passage –
I too, am America, but I reject this pogrom;
I no longer sing America;
I am weeping in America