A poem for my brother

I know you love the confidence
Kanye West brings to the stage,
and
Jordans are your favorite thing-

I know this because you’ve asked me for my nail polish remover
to erase any dirt or stains,
your kicks are the first thing anyone sees,
and it’s important to set off on the right foot with people,
you say.

I know you like rap music too,
you shoot hoops and talk like a white kid from the hood,
not to say that it’s not all good-
but why does everyone always notice
that you stand out amongst all your black friends?

I hear people saying you’re just going through a phase,
as if every black man likes Jordans, Kanye, and talking slang-
as if you were copying, pretending, and not just doing your thing

so to those who don’t know you:
We are all different…

and stereotypes are just stereotypes,
no, my brother doesn’t think he’s black,
and even if he does why is that so out of whack?

As if the color of anyone’s skin should affect expectations.

As if rap is always satanic and not what my brother has found
motivation to do his science project on photosynthesis,
rapping like he thinks he’s Nas, Jay-Z or Biggie,

As if that A he earned doesn’t really mean as much
because he did it in the way of a stereotype he doesn’t even fit into.

I don’t care if you think all black boys talk slang,
Asians look the same,
Mexicans smell like dirt, sweat, and kitchen stains,

How about you start characterizing people
by their accomplishments,
and not the insulting stereotypes,
We all endeavor to work hard,
that deserves acknowledgment,

especially since we’ve all got our own set of DNA
separating us from they-

But I bet you didn’t know that the separation has nothing to do with race,
it’s time to peel back our skins like paint,
shed the stereotypes that accompany our taint,

so that my little brother can be himself
without being accused of trying to mimic another race.

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