What do you see when you look at me? You don’t look me in the eyes
So what is it you’re looking for? Am I the kid who beat up your brother in middle school? Am I the one who stole his bike and you couldn’t do anything about it? Do you see vengeance in me? A chance to get back at him? To get over? To “make things right?” Is that why you followed me? Or are you a “teacher?” A righteous educator taking life lessons to the street
with a bully curriculum and a 9mm? Do I look stupid to you? What was your GPA? Do I look like I need to learn a lesson
Hard as steel today? Aren’t we all stupid to you? Aren’t we all carrying guns and breaking laws? Or is that just you? Really, what do you see? What can you see? Can you see my father? Or does my skin preclude me from having great male role models like yourself? I hear you mentor black boys; what have you told them About hoodies and iced tea? What of Jim Crow and self-defense laws? What of segregation and privilege? Have you shown them what streets they cannot walk? What white ladies they cannot talk to Or whistle at In this sundown town? Have you drawn chalk outlines for them To step into for the “safety of the community?” Have you told them how much their hair reminds you of drugs Their noses violence, their lips rape, their skin crime? Have you scared them into forgetting their pride And cowering before you, Massa? Or are they just the exceptions to your black rules? Just the Oprah’s and Obama’s among the 99% of us thugs? Am I all dick and fists to you? All crack and rap and basketball? Am I not a child still? Can you not see my mother in my cheeks? Her joy and laughter and pain and hope Breathing through my lungs? Is she not holy, not sanctified, not deserving? Like your mother? Can you see her grief? Can you touch one tenth of the earthquake Rumbling in her chest every morning she wakes Without me? Can you imagine the almighty strength she wields To prevent herself and my father from finding Sweet relief in the same violence turned around? Can you see how god she is? How god we all are? Even you? I wonder, truly What do you see? What can you see In me Besides bullets?