You do not know what he is capable of.
When you walk on the sidewalk hold purse closer to self.
Cross street to different side.
Stay alert at all times.
You do not know what he is capable of.
He is brimming with racial vengeance in a post-racial world.
Keep your children safe.
Lock  your doors.
Don't be caught in the wrong neighborhood.
At the wrong time of night.
You do not know what he is capable of.

 

When I was four years old.
There was this girl named Sarah.
She told me if I brought the Disney movie Anastasia
Every day for an entire week to watch during after school.
She would be my girlfriend.

 

My four old body.
Wanted a girlfriend.
And all the ostensible glory one could bring.
I brought Anastasia every day for a week.
And sure enough on the last day.
She said, I will be your girlfriend.
And I saw it was good.

   

So we held hands.
And blew kisses.
And I made her a house out of building blocks.
Because that's what four year old men do to provide for their families.

 

Her mother, sweet black haired future warning that she was.
Told me, I think it's cute that you guys are playing grown up.
But sweet baby, black boys and white girls don't belong together.
My four year old brain accepted this as a fact of life.
Told her I would do the chivalrous thing and break up with her.

 

I told my mom what had happened.
I had never seen her so angry before.
Even today, they are capable of this, she said.
I said, capable of what, mom.
She said, capable of something far older than you.

   

My friend told me.
You are not like most black people that I know.
I said, what are most black people like.
She said, have you ever seen BET.
I said, shut up.

 

She said.
With you.
I do not feel like I have to hold my purse closer to myself.
I do not feel like I have to walk to the other side of the street.
I'm not sure if you know what your kind is capable of.
I said.

 

My kind is capable of people like Benjamin Banneker
who measured the dimensions of the seat of your President.
My kind is capable of Garret Morgan, who created a gas mask
to protect us from the weapons your kind is capable of.
My kind is capable of Daniel Williams
Who learned how to mend a broken heart
Something poets have been trying to do since the beginning of time.
 

My kind is capable of great things.
What you have reduced us to.
 Well, that sounds like a personal problem.
I said my kind is capable of people like —

 

She said.
You're so sensitive.
I said.
You're so micro-aggressive.
I didn't mean to be offensive.
I just meant to say it seems like you've had privileges other people
of your particular persuasion haven't had.
I said that's good to hear.
I said, there's one more privilege I'm waiting for.
Of not having to worry.
The privilege of knowing that if I'm walking down the street.
Someone doesn't have to feel like they have to clutch purse closer to self.
Clutch children closer to parent.
Clutch weapon in preparation of threat.
Clutch bias.
Clutch prejudice.
Clutch the casualty.
You do not know what we are capable of.
You have no clue.

Jay Morris is a second-year health promotions and behavior student at the University of Georgia. He has been writing for three years and reads regularly at Word of Mouth the first Wednesday of every month at The Globe. He writes in the confessional style and his poetry explores mental illness, sexuality, and racism.