by Kellen Gaither
According to most people, I am not allowed to hurt. Black people are supposed to feel the least amount of pain because they have “assimilated” to the mistreatment they faced— faced, past tense. I am no longer allowed to grieve for the people who came before me in chains, covered in their own feces. I cannot hurt because it happened over 400 years ago so I should just get over it. I am not allowed to feel anguish for my 62-year-old mother who was told that Blacks had to come in through the back in order to be served or for my 65-year-old father who had to read a middle school book with missing pages and outdated information because it didn’t happen to me. I am not allowed to feel worried when my 18-year-old brother walks out of the house with a hoodie on because the thought of him being killed by a cop is “dramatic.” He's not Terrance Franklin, after all, he isn’t William Green, he isn’t Kwame Jones, he’s just an unarmed Black boy, so why be afraid? I’m not allowed to feel anxiety when I go into a job interview that I won’t be hired, not because I’m not qualified, But because of my natural hair, my skin color, or my Ebonics. Pain is something I’m never allowed to feel because it was all in the past— right?
Kellen Gaither – 2021 Featured Poet – is a junior from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a psychology major with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies who is also working on her prerequisites for occupational therapy. Beautiful Black Boy, Businessman, Cantu Bantu, The Hood Isn’t Even Ours Anymore, I Can Feel It, The Talk