The average white lady’s dog costs more to maintain
than a black boy in school per annum.
When white lady’s dog goes missing,
She spends money to make posters on trees and milk cartons
to help dog come home safely.
Nobody cares enough about John Does who arrive in the ER
to put their faces up on posters on trees and milk cartons.
Nobody cries when a stranger’s body is sprawled across the streets like home décor.
Nobody asks black boys how they are getting home after 18:00pm.
Nobody asks if they are afraid, or if they ever cry.
The African hierarchy tells us that black boy is
born king and head of the house.
Born responsible for everything he is and everything he is not.
The television says he’s guilty until proven innocent.
That if black boy is found beaten and broken,
We have every right to ask what he did to deserve it.
That his skin looks suspect.
That his mouth cannot protect him,
Only his fists, and occasionally his legs.
Black boy born so strong he’s a danger to himself.
If black boy is anything but strong,
Other black boys will eat him.
Black boy born so strong that beating him up only makes him stronger.
The right of passage to his manhood is polished with blood.
Black boy’s tears too sacred to hit the ground.
Black boy’s cry is abominable.
Black boys don’t go missing, they leave.
Missing is a term used for girls and white lady’s dog.
Black boy’s mother eats prayer for dinner.
And if black boy doesn’t return home for sixteen years,
His masculinity will feed and protect him.
Black boy so strong he can resurrect himself.
Black boy’s grandmother prays:
“lord empty the hospitals and heal the prisoners”
As if these are the only two places a displaced black boy belongs.
As the perpetrator who got caught, and the perpetrator who got away.
Never the victim.
Never the painful scream in the night,
Never the mouth that cries for help.
I seem to be the only person who wants to know,
What factory generates John Does?
Faces without names.
Black Boys without families and friends, just enemies,
And acquaintances who disappear when the going gets tough.
But if a black boy is shot in a dark alley, in the middle of the night
And nobody is there to scream on his mother’s behalf,
Does his body bleed enough to make headlines?
Published with Permission © Keitumetse ‘Abi’ Thlako