"crowd," "i have a habit of remembering your names," and "Remember Upon Entering a Convenience Store"

crowd
[kroud]

noun

  1. a group of people who are linked by a common interest or activity in Bristol, Connecticut waiting to beat the black out of Stuart Scott’s voice.“Booyah” blossomed from his throat and I know they told the football to slice his eye.
  2. an audience watched Lebron toss the talcum powder and paint the air white. They were glad his brawn turned him Cavalier and not convict. Ex 2:Kenneth Adams jumped from the Birmingham crowd to wrestle Nat King Cole mid-song. The baffled singer cried when the bar stool kiss the small of his back and shouted, “I just came here to entertain you, I thought that was what you wanted. I was born here.”
  3. A large number of persons were in the crowd that the off-duty policeman shot aimlessly into, killing Rekia Boyd. There was no indictment; There was no crowd that showed up to the black woman’s protest, but #BlackLivesMatter. Ex 2:15 yr. old Latasha Harlins put a bottle of orange juice in her bag and left the convenience store in a body bag. The Korean owner didn’t see dollars in her hand so she emptied Harlins’ brain on the tile. A black crowd spilled in the streets of Los Angeles but the police called them rioters. The owner was acquitted. Ex 3: Miriam Carey had postpartum depression. Secret Service shot her at a White House check point. Five bullets filled her insides like cavities. I wonder how many black crowds have had to gather at the nation’s Capitol? Ex 4 will happen again tomorrow. It happened yesterday and went unnoticed. Who will make up the crowds next week?

 


 

i have a habit of remembering your names
(after Lucille Clifton)

i have a habit of remembering your names
as if i birthed you
from my own womb. i did not.
your names were waiting for me
on the kitchen counter,
in a freshly printed newspaper,
and I with my responsible empathy
read your obituaries
and called your deaths
genocide.
you were never human,
breathing in borrowed air,
black faces, problems before people.
when I am old enough to bear
a son of my own, believe me, i won't.

 


 

Remember Upon Entering a Convenience Store

Have money in hand. Flash the cashier a smile to reassure her. You are a 10-year-old girl, brown-skinned, accustomed to tree climbing and backyards.

Roam the aisles meticulously. Today is the day you put aside those tomboyish ways and buy a box of press-on nails, the ones with the French tips that every girl in your fifth grade class raves about. Spot the box with the pink polka.

Find the owner staring you down from behind the counter. Continue to read the directions on the back of the box. Walk towards the counter with money in hand. Realize that the cashier is no longer there.

When the woman reappears from one of the side aisles, gaze still locked on your small frame, ask her why she has been watching you. When she asks you, “Did you take anything?” simply reply “No.” She will say that last month, a group of black kids stole several boxes of candy and got away with it. Notice the sting and bitterness when she says the word black.

She will ask you to empty your pockets. Do it. Watch as the lint from your jeans disperses through the air like pollen. Listen as your quarters chatter like tiny tambourines when you place them on the counter.

Take the plastic bag she hands you and smile. Collect the change from the counter and let it sit in those shallow wishing wells you call hands. Relax. Exit with your things. You have done nothing wrong. You are too young to understand that your very presence has the power to alter public spaces.

 

 

Karisma Price is a senior at Columbia University majoring in creative writing. She was born and raised in New Orleans. 

 

Edited for Unlikely by Rosalyn Spencer, #BlackArtMatters Guest Editor
Last revised on Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 17:37