The Burden

“How on earth are you hoping right now?”
I really want to quit.
No more coping right now?
My demons got demons.
No more glowing light now.
I have become my own shadow.
Whys consuming my how.
We’ve all heard the stories
Of who we’re supposed to be
But I wrote my own story
When yours was opposed to me
Became a default leader
They’re drawing close to me
Now my failures are their failures
Supposedly.
When I’m not “myself”,
No one knows it me.
Hiding in plain sight
Until you let go of me.
This is the burden
That none of us has asked for
But if one falls from grace
We’re all put on blast for
They say we credit our race
Or we bring them down
Then when “I’m” not there
I am finally found

©️ Copyright 2021 Pedro S. Silva II

Almost every Black person I know who has grown up in America knows what it’s like to feel the existential burden placed upon us that says, “You represent your entire race.” I remember getting in a conversation with a military buddy who happens to be White about this a couple of decades ago. He was honest enough to admit that he had observed this too. And being a straight forward man and not very politically correct, he indignantly said, “Dang man that’s messed up. It’s not like I have to think about how every serial killer makes me look. And you know most of the serial killers are some crazy White guy.”

Because we are good friends, we could have an irreverent laugh about the absurdity of it all. And in the context of our friendship, he and I have dismantled most of that systemic garbage so that it isn’t between us. But, at the same time, things like what went down between Will Smith and Chris Rock shows that the larger culture is still entangled in this tendency to place the burden of all of us on everyone of us. Even many of us Black folks are wrestling with this, calling the incident “Black on Black” crime, because we have been enculturated into this mindset and don’t think of questioning the culture that create such misnomers and agreeing that what happened puts Black people back instead of just the person who made the decision.

As someone who has wrestled with this burden most of my own life, while always questioning its validity ever since a teacher told me I was a “credit to my race”, I can say this is unfair and needs to be deconstructed. When my teacher said it to me, I let him know that I didn’t take it as a compliment even though I knew that was how he meant it. It hurt his feelings. But not as much as him essentially saying to me, “Your race is so messed up, they are lucky to have you.”

If you are someone who doesn’t have the social obligation to represent your entire community to the world, I invite you to meditate on that for a moment. What does it feel like to think that the next thing some one from your group does that is unwelcomed reflects on you directly? Imagine someone coming up to you at your job and asking you, why someone did something as if you all have some kind of group telepathy. That’s what a large segment of society is asking of us everyday. So, if you want to lighten that burden, don’t participate in this tendency. Be part of a better way. Get to know people as individuals. Listen to and share personal stories from folks who differ from you. And don’t rely on biases to determine your relational capacity.

If you’re looking for opportunities to relate beyond biases, check out events such as America Talks and the National Week of Conversation.

Thanks to @anas_alhajj_ for making the cover photo available freely on @unsplash

New Me #BLM Cut – Pedro Silva (featuring the Voices of the Movement)

New Me #BLM Cut – Pedro Silva (featuring the Voices of the Movement)

They can’t kill me
Holla if you feel me
Who I am was never born
So you never getting near me

Here’s the Truth
We don’t need your proof (approval)
Mustard seed of juice
And the mountains will go poof

To be the new me
I had to kill the old me
To wake up from this lie bruh,
This is what they told me

Wake up from the dream
Death ain’t nothing but a bee sting
Hallelujah’s what we sing
From the moment we see that real thing

In loving memory of:

#ChristianCooper
#AhmaudArbery
#BothamJean
#AtatianaJefferson
#JonathanFerrell
#RenishaMcBride
#StephonClark
#JordanEdwards
#JordanDavis
#AltonSterling
#AiyanaJones
#MikeBrown
#TamirRice
#Charleston9
#TrayvonMartin
#SeanBell
#OscarGrant
#SandraBland
#PhilandoCastile
#CoreyJones
#JohnCrawford
#TerrenceCrutcher
#KeithScott
#CliffordGlover
#ClaudeReese
#RandyEvans
#YvonneSmallwood
#AmadouDiallo
#WalterScott
#EricGarner
#FreddieGray
#BreonnaTaylor
#GeorgeFloyd

And all those lost to the silence.

#RestinPower
#BlackLivesMatter

The song is available for download an all major digital platforms like iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify etc.

Video produced by Katrina Dawn Miller https://www.blackatvideoproductions.com/

Song mixed by Prasanna Bishop
https://akashicrecording.com/

What Will You Say? (A Poem in Response to George Floyd’s Martyrdom)

What will you say,
If you found out that they got me?
Knee to the neck
Or they shot me?
You knew me;
Now you forgot me?
What will you say?
“I thought he was so different.”?
“He shouldn’t have been on that hit list.”?
“There will be justice.
God is my witness”?
“I swear I’ll never forget this.”?
What would you say,
If I told you this was my family?
When they’re damning them,
Then they damn me.
Saying where we can
And we can’t be.
From the beginning,
I know that they stamped me.
What would you say,
If I told you daily I’m dying?
That this is the world that I’m in.
They want your soul,
For a buy in.
The Truth hurts,
When they’re lying.
What would you say
If George Floyd
Was suddenly me?
It was Pedro under that knee?
Let’s pray one day we don’t see.

© Copyright 2020 Pedro S. Silva II

Whenever my two year old cries for me not to leave her as I walk out the door, I wonder if somehow she knows that this might be the last she sees me–that I might make a mistake and run a red light or go to the store or go for a walk on the trail just outside our neighborhood and never come back. Then immediately after thinking those thoughts, I rebuke them. I tell myself that it is not fair for me to project my anxieties onto my toddler. I remind myself that I have a family, a ministry, and a life that matters. I tell myself that I cannot let these ideas that I live with like a permanent limp, dictate how I live. So I pray, get up, and go about the business of living. And then…

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Check out Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi