Featured photo: Semaj Brown
Written by Semaj Brown, Flint’s First Poet Laureate Author of the book “Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light”
Dear Comfortable Beautiful People: Let’s Talk About Keisha
I often joke about drinking tea. However, it is my reality. I enjoy a good pot. Today, peppermint, it is so invigorating when chilled on these scorching summer days. Mint is a soothing, yet refreshing bunch of leaves. In these difficult times, I need both. Have you been writing your thoughts down, creating verse? Poetry making, as previously discussed, is good for the heart.
At 3 a.m. when computers yield deference to the moon, and screen lights dim, the arrogance of knowing fades and questions emerge-what if an individual’s core or an individual’s success is not as much about what acted on that individual, but more about what did not act on that individual?
I heard an associate celebrate. She was ecstatic that her children are all college-educated adults. They made it. “Hallelujah! I’m through!” she exclaimed, with hands tossed high. I, too, was happy for her; but, “through” I questioned. I thought of Keisha, a nine-year-old African American girl, born into the throws of abject generational poverty.
The rodents that infest Keisha’s apartment are not Keisha’s fault. The bowl of empty for dinner is not Keisha’s fault. The shattered windows from socially engineered bullets are not her fault. Nine- year-old Keisha did not design institutional racism, a system that requires an inferior educational system to ensure substandard life for the majority — to guarantee illiteracy, forcing Keisha into vulnerability, into domestic violence, into incarceration and sex traffic victimization. Nor did Keisha make the water she drinks poison. Keisha did not cut her water off for non-payment. Keisha did not make herself at risk for hepatitis C. Yes, I thought of Keisha. I thought of our invisible caste system that ensures the expansion of poverty.
If we do not disrupt the ravages of lack, if we do not insert ourselves via talent, resources or advocacy, then we ensure, by our absence that the primary actors on Keisha’s well-being will remain those entrenched barriers to a self-actualized life.
This is a call to those comfortable beautiful people who sleep stroll through oblivion, to those who abdicate social responsibility, not because they are inherently callous, but because their blinders are emotional protectors, or perhaps they have not allowed themselves to think deeply enough or feel far enough. Of course, there will always be those who feign ignorance: “I did not know it was this bad.”
I implore the yawning beautiful people to cease visiting your den of denial. Research bares out that you will feel more enlivened and fulfilled and your life will be enriched beyond measure when you decide to become an engaged volunteer or a primary actor for positive radical change. Keisha needs you; the world needs you, and I thank you.