EXHALE

By Kamal Smith

We’re accepting no racism or microaggressions today.
We’re not fake smiling to make you feel comfortable and us worse. We’ re not telling you we’re alright when we’ re not. We’re not biting our tongues to “ play the game.” We’re not thanking you for your backhanded compliments. We’re not feeling the burden of working twice as hard to break even.
We’re not willing to experience the frustration and
awkwardness that comes from being singled out at work or in class. We’ re not tensing up when we’ re just trying to live our lives. If we can’t be in the same space without you
knowingly or unknowingly being offensive, we just can’t
right now. We’re giving out zero passes. We’re not bottling in our anger just so you won’ t label us. We’ re not feeling
obligated to take the high road this time so you can sleep well at night while we’ re up. We’ re not subscribing to
prioritizing your emotions over ours just so they can boil over in self-destructive ways. We’ re not giving you credit for simply treating us like human beings when God took His time handcrafting us, too, with care. Our patience has run
out, so we’re not spending any more energy we don’t have teaching you what you should’ve already learned by now. We’re accepting only genuine love or mutual respect.
We are Black Men, and we are exhaling.

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