I Am Not Afraid
By Aimee K. Bryant
I am not afraid of your fear of me
and I am not oblivious to the danger your fear poses.
I know hatred
I know brutality
I know discrimination
I know systemic oppression
I know the middle passage and slavery and lynching and Jim Crow and redlining and the preschool to prison pipeline and mass incarceration and the war on drugs and the war on poverty and how the American Injustice System applies to JUST US.
I know blackface and Backstreet Boys and Macklemore.
And, I know: Clarence Thomas and Kanye West and Omorosa.
I know. WE KNOW.
But, I also know that, in the words of Ntozake Shangé,
“We have never met an enemy that we cannot outlive,”
So I am not afraid.
I am not afraid because I know who we are.
I know we are powerful
I know we are creative
I know we are beautiful
I know we are indomitable.
We are here, and we’re not going anywhere.
So I am not afraid. I am ready.
I am ready to stay in the streets until the lily white towers of unearned advantages come toppling down.
I am ready to fill in the gaps, the untaught American History, so that my daughter knows that she is magnificent and unstoppable.
I am ready to love myself so fiercely that you cannot help but love me too.
I am ready to go to jail for justice.
I am ready to shed my blood for equity.
I am ready to die for our freedom.
I am ready to die.
And I Am Not Afraid.