coffee beans, brown boys and truth: a letter to those who would listen

next summer

my brother will be the same age

trayvon was

when he died.

and you will no longer think of him

as the polite and

adorable little boy

at camp kaleidoscope

with teeth too big for

his head.

and a head too big for

his body.

though you knew him well

you can’t seem to find

the little boy who

always smiled

and everyone loved.


in the curve of his mouth,

you no longer see the little boy

who ate leaves from the tree

after school with you,

and laughed.

in the lines of his hand,

you no longer see the boy

who grabbed a snake from

the bamboo during recess

and thought nothing of it.

you seem to have lost

all sight of the gap-toothed

child who you played with.


that little boy

is still there.

hidden behind a young man

struggling to learn

in a school that does not know

how to teach him

and expects

almost nothing from him.

i see a young man

nearly crushed by the lie you told him

when you said

“liberty and justice for all”


next summer,

my brother will be the same age

trayvon was

when he died.

and I pray everyday

to a god I no longer believe in

that he will make it through this.

i worry that some day,

someone will project

their misplaced judgments

on him and then

claim self defense

as a gunshot

rings through the night

and his future

disappears in an instant.


my brother has skin the color of coffee beans, and someday you’ll make him pay for it.


the original version of this piece was written in July 2013


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