Wanted (AKA F “History”) by Hakim Bellamy
Whitney Houston was wrong.
These nappy headed babies right here
will never be the future.
Because we are not good at math.
Counted below average.
Less than, when asked
what the life expectancy of a man is
& we are all fingers & toes to the answer…
only the calculator is laughing.
Told we don’t get it,
when we do.
We always get it
in the end.
Slave to the final grade
even after we show all our work…
nothing but a pool of red ink.
I don’t know sir.
But only in math class, Whitney.
Never in English
Gift rapped, but never “gifted”
unless we eulogize ourselves
and hot sixteens.
But as soon as we give one single fuck in a poem,
they get an “F”
and all that is left
Whitney, when you ask the the mini me’s
if we want to be history…
we’ll tell you “No.”
No little boy grows up saying
“I want to be
When “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
becomes a rhetorical essay question…
Don’t give Susan “A”
give us a
Do more than “C” us,
Because Nat &
the rest of this cotton pickin’ history
in our DNA.
Even the tests
are scared of themselves,
made to memorize the dates and names
of good people that died in bad ways
a list that gets longer every other day…
When the right answer is a trigger
and the wrong answer is trauma
the test becomes impossible
but “you gon’ learn today”
why the “A”
in straight As really stands for afraid.
got the T-shirt.
when black surnames span the back
right atop a number…
when black first names
down the front.
And there’s always too many numbers.
So we be like
because it’s scary
But so are lists.
Ask Philando & Alton
how it felt to be retired.
To have their dance cards pulled and punched.
To have their jerseys hung
from the rafters of the American myth.
So when we heard the words
“Tamir has passed”
and tricked ourselves into believing
it had anything remotely to do with “class”…
we failed him
because past is prologue
and it seems like none of the grown ups
have done the homework.
is being famous
for all the wrong reasons,
The future is a cruel
joke some teacher invented
just to get our hopes up.
Words like promise and potential
ring hollow when followed by a procession
of Thursday afternoon church bells,
like Black students’ names
always followed by ampersands
We never wanted to “make” history.
What we wanted,
was to make 25.
Wanted to make different lists.
Wanted to be wanted.
Wanted to be more
than the correct answer
* Originally published on July 10, 2016 on Mr. Bellamy’s Website, Be-Side
© Hakim Bellamy 2016
Community Publishing has published Hakim Bellamy’s Samuel’s Story, a multimedia children’s story featuring the music of DJ Flo Fader and the illustrations of Melvin Mayes available in Print and Digital editions.
Hakim Bellamy is Albuquerque’s Inaugural Poet Laureate. He is also a scholar, educator, musician, and poet. Community Publishing has published Hakim Bellamy’s Samuel’s Story, a multimedia children’s story featuring the music of DJ Flo Fader and the illustrations of Melvin Mayes available in Print and Digital editions.
Community Publishing brings local artists of all mediums together in creative collaborations for distribution as Multimedia Books while promoting literacy in our communities. We are proud to be a community partner and digital marketer at the Rail Yards Market and the Monte Vista Fire Station. Need help with your web presence and social media marketing? Click here to find out how we can help you!
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