This ghetto

-Carolyn F

This poem came out of some journaling I did based on my experience near the public housing in the East End. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the people living there, but I have no idea if this hits the mark:

This is the place,
with houses bare,
cops that stare,
and gangs, beware.
I wonder if they find it bizarre
that I would take the bus this far.

I search for a trace of
love and God’s grace.

I, a white girl, nervously pace
for the first time–trapped
in my skin
like it is an unchosen mask
akin to the skin
of the slaveowners.
My lips begin to cower,
my pink lips of undeserved power.

I wonder
what does it feel like to be
wrapped in a skin they make you feel,
trapped by what society sees
and not by what is real?

I search for a trace of
love and God’s grace.

What does it feel like to be
yelled at, told to talk more “white”
without a fight,
told to be another way,
so that you can one day have some say?
What does it feel like to be
led to believe
your culture’s wrong,
that it doesn’t have the power
to make you free?

I search for a trace of
love and God’s grace.

In this ghetto,
America is another man’s dream,
so it may seem,
when people like you aren’t in the movies
but are on the news as criminals
without a chance or second glance.

How would it feel to be a man who was long ago
led to believe he could not achieve
all that a girl like me would just receive,
and that when he gets it easy,
he’d be a thief?

How does it feel to grow up in this ghetto?

Do I dare to guess? For, I truly do not know.

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