The Shame in School Hallways 

I know a man

who hears his father’s words each morning,

Listen to me, son, every day someone

is going to remind you you are black,

And they do.

 

I know a man

strategizing through white halls of power,

worth the ire to save youngsters

whose hearts have been ravaged

futures worn away like chalk on sidewalks

kids not yet survivors of growing up.


I know a man,

who fights against his unspoken screams of rage

at yet another white teacher who needs to

be told again, that a brown student is not

guilty simply because she is afraid of him.

 

I know a man

who sits in his car each school-yard afternoon

one breath away from violent hate, holding to his own

safety line of awareness that right now he is the only

hope those imperiled young lives hold to.

 

I know a man

who, in mournful darkness, aches so deeply

his heart burns a hole through his faith, his muscles

exhausted from holding hope against the vacuum of fear,

a restless sleeper in despair’s night cradle,

praying until he finally rests till dawn.

Sharon Lopez Mooney, “The Shame in School Halways, From Roundtable Literary Journal, Issue  55, ed. Caitlin Chester and Elizabeth Burton, Hopkinsville, KY, 2021