Monday, March 7, 2011

When the White Man Told


When The White Man Told

When the white man told
the Black woman, twice, that
she was naive about race in the U.S.,
his attitude was authoritative,
terse, and humorless. Thus,

we may deduce that he
did not know how risible
his statement was. Sure, it was
possibly frustrating, possibly
infuriating, but also just
goddamned ridiculously,
unwittingly ironic.

And when a report, gussied up
as a poem, observed that a white
man watching a tennis match
between a Black woman and a
white woman made a white man
connect with his white tribe,
a synonym for clan, the report

was many things, but what it
wasn't was complicated,
sophisticated, news, or
helpful.  But of course
the white man and the report
had on their side the privilege
of all that confident leverage
that comes from centuries
of heavy, dull, but powerful
weight--I mean, a weight
that hangs around the neck
of the U.S. like an anvil.
A white man myself,

I can easily imagine this white
man, having corrected
the Black woman twice
(or so he imagined),
smiling; and then reading
congratulatory emails
from other white
men and women.

Copyright 2011 Hans Ostrom
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