Like explaining menstrual cramps
to my wives, I tell my black friends
how non-violence and civil disobedience
are superior to riots.

“If I were black…”

But I was not black.
I grew up white,
trusting police
to serve and protect
this preacher’s kid
with a pathetic teenage mustache
whose minor infractions
were youthful hijinks—
boys will be boys—
white boys.

If I had been black
I would have lived
a very different life.
I might not have survived
my twenties, long before camera phones,
and ended up just another suicide
in a jailhouse or killed
while resisting arrest—
not even a statistic.

My advice to my fellow old white men
is not to counsel but to listen.
We can’t truly understand.
We can barely sympathize
but we can listen

and we can change.

About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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11 Responses to Invisible

  1. Cassa Bassa says:

    I share with your view. Thanks for writing this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Krista M.D.R. says:

    Thank you, this is so beautiful and very much needed in these times.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Tomey says:

    Well expressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve had many conversations with some of my white colleagues and friends. Your poem captured the essence of the challenge. I’m new to blogging and had to share this post. First reblog. Wasn’t sure if I should ask first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No need to ask first. If I (or anybody else blogging) has put their work out there, I’m pretty sure they’re as delighted with the share as I am. Thank you!

      I’m glad I was able to capture the challenge. I’m ashamed to say I don’t have many black friends or coworkers so I worry about my ignorance.


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