The Color of Change

I am a child of the 1960s.

billy-58-002

I was nearly born colored,
as my mother had been
but slipped between the cracks of definition.

She, born in a more tranquil time
the color of separate
but equal.
We learned, though,
it was equal only in the way
same-color paint bought
in two batches is
equal.

innerchildI was more equal than mom,
but less equal than others.

By my tenth year, we
Americans were no longer in color,
but in living black and white.
One was either one,
or the other.

I was the other.

As the sixties progressed,
they colored us wet
in marches through the South.
Those refreshing showers
washed
the stench of self-doubt from us
and we colored ourselves black.

file04080044bwI went to college in the crazy 1970s.
The air was colored with funky smells,
most of which were illegal.
We took our toke, inhaling
the drug of opportunity and pipes
full of dreams.
We rolled ourselves
in the magical, mystical peace-pipe
of pan-Africanism,
declared ourselves the color
of freedom.
I was foolish for inhaling.

I was a businessman in the 1980s.

White collar, blue suit, red tie,
and dollar green.
No longer black, I was the color
of invisibility. Was almost certain
I existed, since my checks
didn’t bounce but
no matter how hard I tried,
I couldn’t color myself
seen.

I should have worn the yellow tie.

bill-00I looked at the calendar,
surprised to see it was 2000s
I slept through the 1990s,
apparently.
fell asleep at the wheel
of career aspirations

No one thought to wake me

Still, I awoke in time
for the color of change.
Initially, I thought that change
was colored brown, but
I was wrong.
Change is the color of words.
We’ve changed the N-word
into challenges of citizenship
(three-fifths of a president).
I ran from raucous klaverns
but fell into delicate tea parties
attended by the same constituency.

Politically,
one can only be one
or the other.

I am the other.
The color of change
is the same color
it was
in 1963.

The hoses are just bigger
and filled with bullshit

instead of water.

bday hat 032

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12 thoughts on “The Color of Change

  1. Interesting patch of history, rendered in witty and intimate nostalgia. I hear a strong sense of character and identity, with the un-good almost sweetened by the fond remembrance. This piece took me on quite a journey.

    Like

  2. A seminal piece, as all these personal life pieces are that you write. I’m reminded why I have so much admiration for how you weave yourself into words, then produce a lyricism that is a subtle at times as the whisper of time itself. I am proud to know you, but then you know that. Sometimes I almost feel like it’s a tragedy that I will never know you completely. But I’ll take what I can get.

    Like

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