You’re American but you’re too Black.

You’re Black but you’re too African.

You’re African but you’re too dark.

I’m sick of being told what I am and what I am not.

You say I’m too much of that but not enough of this,

Just because my looks don’t fit your stereotyped definition of what I should be.

Who are you to tell me who I should be?

Whoever gave you the right to put me in a box, anyway?

You sort, prioritize, and fixate on the different parts of me.

You think you can strip me down until I’m no longer whole.

You fail to realize those disparate pieces of me fit together to make me, me.

They’ve so specifically shaped my worldview.

With every experience one piece stands out from the rest

But you don’t see that.

You can only see the most salient piece of me.

And that’s the piece you decide to label me as.

Your lens is so narrow you think my being one thing automatically makes me something else.

You fail to see the intersections that make me more than just one thing.

No one is just one thing.

I am a scholar, visionary and advocate.

A writer and student.

I am a fashionista and lover of the finer things in life.

A wonderer and loyal friend.

I am adventurous, curious and a little unpredictable.

Intelligent and still manage to make a fool of myself.

I am brave yet still afraid.

Because I know you watch my every step in dismay,

Just waiting for me to slip up and prove to you I am nothing more than a mistake.

That you can erase several bullets at a time.

So every day while you put on your vest to protect yourself

From my just living life, trying to do me, ever so freighting to you self,

I put on a smile, wear school apparel, avoid dark hoodies and keep my hands where you can see them

In hopes your loaded gun doesn’t see my dark skin as a threat.

To the Black men I love and have never met, I see you.

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