an open letter to the stupid [redacted] about to get [redacted] if they mention “affirmative action” one more [redacted] time

Matthew E. Henry


sometimes I miss the daily reminders

that they hadn’t hired “a colored person”

in 40 years. how that bedroom community

of Boston took pride in their pronounced

klan presence. the perks of working

in a building where the vice principal

refused to shake my hand.

sometimes I miss the diversity of rural life:

where the only “others” were also imported

to that summer destination in New Hampshire.

the balance of perpetual autumnal colors, and

students unafraid to openly call me “nigger.”

sometimes I miss being the only Black professor

in a program where I was once the only Black face

on the website for over a decade, wondering if my legacy

will be passed to the lone Brother sitting in my old seat.

but now I work in a suburb which provided

a police escort—for winding miles in my rear-view—

to an interview where I was asked, repeatedly,

if I would remain longer than the other minorities

hired once upon a time.

revisionist history

Matthew E. Henry

“…You put a nigga in Star Wars. / maybe

You need two, / and then, maybe then

We’ll believe You / see Black people

in the future…”

⠀Common’s clever rhymes

bred online discussions about hollywood

tokenism and progressive post-racialism

amongst the hip-hop intelligentsia.

⠀while some argued

the count across the entire franchise—

the number of named brothers, no sisters,

who wielded lightsabers and X-8 night snipers

on the screen—Blerd that I am, my first thought

was about the anachronism. that the whole

space opera took place—past tense—

“a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,”

calling into question the whole conceit.

⠀but then I considered

the curriculum we teach. the slim books

stacked like hulled bodies in the back

of my classroom—Uncle Tom’s Cabin,

Huckleberry Finn, Things Fall Apart

A Raisin in the Sun, The Bluest Eye, Citizen.

I thought maybe They need to see Us—

We need to see Us—on different ships,

in different positions: captains and pilots

⠀instead of cargo.

Matthew E. Henry (MEH) is the author of Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag), Dust and Ashes (Californios Press), the Colored page (Sundress Publications, forthcoming), and editor-in-chief of The Weight Journal. MEH’s an educator who writes poetry and prose about education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground.

Issue 3

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