Black Tears

by Vita E.

I used to joke about white tears,
The ones that my melinated friends collected in candles, teacups,
And vials around their necks to ironically season their food with.
It took me a while to understand the desire to collect a memory of someone’s complaints,
About a form of racism that does not, has not, and likely will not ever exist.

Recently my understanding of this tactic rings like a thousand rednecks at a Trump rally.
I understand now that collecting white tears is a form of reparation.
A return on the imposed investment on the bones of my ancestors.
Trails of Black tears that pollinated cotton fields,
That complimented the salt of oceans and sweat of slaves,
That created the taste of bitterness that would last for centuries,
Leaking out of the souls of Black victims of modern day lynching captured in high definition.
These tears mixed with the blood of my native brethren,
That had already been spilled to make room for white bodies,
Too full of their own egos to share the land.
These tears have been collected as pennies in comparison to the lives that were traded as cattle for profit.
Profit that now holds residence inside of old paper.
Generations of making a living off their ancestor’s hatred for my skin tone.
They carry Black tears in their Sierra Leone diamond necklaces,
They record them as they fall into another clip of poverty porn for organizations to make money off our pain.
They convert them into the soles of shoes made by children’s hands.
They’ve turned Black tears into gunpowder to mix with Black bodies,
Spread out over black tar streets that Black and Brown hands built.
Soon to be buried in Black Coffins, while their memories are polluted like the black oil they’ve spilled in blue waters,
Waters that have their own stock of Black skeletons.

So yes, now I do understand.
I understand what it’s like to take less than a tenth back,
Of the parts of you that you will literally never know without a blood test,
Parts of you that may exist at the bottom of beaches,
Inside articles of clothing,
And at the base of white folks fantasies.
I understand what it means to taste a bit of payback in food they could never cook like us.
To hold a drop of their discomfort in our hands,
To feel it in our mouths as nourishment,
To return the favor that we never asked for all those years ago.
White tears are a portion of debt owed to Black people,
And I now take them willingly into my chest,
Dye them obsidian, and write my poems with them.

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