We O.K. With That.

by Michelle Troxclair

 

—————

I grew up on hula-hoops and jump-ropes

Hopscotch outlines in my Grandmama’s driveway

Street-light alarm clocks

Mulberry bushes in the alley our after-school snacks

On crackers. Potato chips with hot sauce

Syrup sandwiches, Kix and Cheerios

Blue Charms suckers from F&L’s

Mr. Westbrook’s store, it was black-owned

He had chocolate coins and real ones

Pickled pig’s feet on the counter in old pickle jars

Grandmama had me bring her one every Saturday.

 

We watched the Lone Ranger with Pops on Sundays

And ironed our school clothes with crisp creases

Cuz we representin’ the family, so we had to be clean.

No matter. We had drunks on corners mumblin’ bout

Big brotha, who wasn’t a brotha, but formed white rocks

That broke the neighborhood, block by block

Big brotha drove black and white Fords topped

With cherries and berries on the prowl for rotten apples

And we always seemed to fit the description

Young, black and gifted—melanated meant criminally

Inclined and fine all at the same time

I loved them niggas regardless.

 

I came of age in knit leggings and big teased hair

And horny white men

Computers peeking over the horizon with cd’s and beepers

Drug dealers and pimps were uncles and cousins

They drove Bonnevilles, Cadillacs, LTD’s with ragtops

And Buick Electra 225’s—just like my daddy.

My daddy owned his own business too

He was a boss

And we didn’t know no different. Family was family

Including folks that didn’t have family.

Come get a plate!

Better clean your plate, “Cuz there’s kids starvin’ in Africa!”

 

I graduated know my blackness was a gift, just like

Raindrops in the summertime and the sway of my

Aunti’s hips

It was cool. It made me strong.

My grandmother, tough as beef jerky in concrete,

Coated in bronze

Taught me to hold my head up

Walk with my shoulders square

Look folks in the eye and don’t take no shit.

Call spades, spades and be thankful for your blessings.

 

Cuz this life ain’t yours. Take your place in the Queendom

Amongst the ancestors

In this city of white folks, named from Natives

We stay in our places, cause that’s what we were taught

Hell fire on the other side of 72nd Street and ain’t no

Hair grease, skins or paintings of Jesus with Locs.

And we were o.k. with that.

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