I have been in contact — skin-to-skin — with those
of a darker shade than I,
it felt like…skin.
It was not the passionate embrace of intimates,
or the caress of long known love,
nor was it an assault — violent expression of hate,
fear and ignorance– there was no instinctual
desire to attack,
merely a touch, unconscious of color.
Bear in mind, I do have my prejudices, oh yes,
and hold tightly to them, even when
I may be wrong.
I form an immediate opinion when I see a black man,
hand holding his pants up by the crotch,
wife-beater t-shirt and a do-rag,
I have similar thoughts about the Hispanic with tattoos
on his face and a lowrider in the yard,
it is much the same with the white woman with four kids
living in a trailer, smoking cigarettes and not
working, refusing to marry the baby-daddy
’cause the food stamps would stop.
Are you pissed off yet? Have you decided on the name
you will call me? Racist? Bigot? Judgmental?
It’s ok, I can be a judgmental SOB.
But here is the thing: my judgements are based on actions
and ideas, not color, and I certainly do not believe
there is some inherent superiority imbedded
in my somewhat-tan-but-still-white skin.
However, there is a reciprocity required which is often
overlooked: you do not get to judge me either,
or, at least not based on my skin,
I do believe there is content of character at issue,
and while mine may indeed come into question when
I display my prejudice against those I do not
know or understand,
you do not get to call me racist if I question the decisions
or actions of a man of color, simply because
the words came from a white man.
The color of my skin does not grant me any right
of superiority, but neither is it a valid reason
to censor my convictions,
that would be racist.
I have hugged the neck of a black woman and kissed
her on the cheek, shook hands with Hispanics,
all just felt like skin.