What We Tell Our Black Sons | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

What We Tell Our Black Sons 

If you are stopped by a policeman
raise your hands, fall to the ground,
spread eagle, then pray.
You are a black male and I want you to 
live to see another day.

Never walk alone, protection in groups.
Be mannerable, say yes, sir or yes, mum. 
Keep head bowed, do not look directly into their eyes.
They find it threatening, this gives them a reason
to stand their ground, that may mean death for you. 

Do not wear a hoodie like Trayvon Martin 
while carrying skittles to his little brother
in Sanford, Fla.— dead.

Nor walk home in the Homewood area like Jordan Miles 
with pop in his pocket in Pittsburgh, Pa. — beaten mercilessly.

Jonny Gammage driving a Jaguar late at night 
through Brentwood, Pa.— dead.  

I tell you son, being by yourself at night,
walking or driving when black
can endanger your life. It frightens me.
Please, I beg you, listen to me,  
you cannot fight the "stand your ground" law.

— Beatrice Vasser

Beatrice Vasser is the author of Circle of Life: Verses From My Journey. She is a retired teacher and licensed professional counselor. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.


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