Response to ‘Unsettling Fear’ – A Poem Dealing with Racism

I have attempted to capture a collection of memories from my past into a story that rhymes. I call it Unsettling Fear, a poem dealing with racism. I wrote it when discovering the theme for this week’s open mic at the community college is Black History Month. My first reaction was to just go and listen or not go at all. But then I started writing… just some thoughts at first and then it started pouring in or out depending on your perspective. Many of the stanzas were touch-typed as I was fighting back tears.

Because of the bold and controversial nature of the content, I am soliciting feedback from my African-American brothers, sisters, friends, associates and some who are strangers to me. Here are four of those:

From a friend: I read it and I think it is good. Not offensive but bold and truthful. I say keep going with it and may God give you boldness during your open mic.

From a stranger: People of color typically find it offensive when the “N” word is used by a non-African American, regardless of the circumstances. However, in this context, it sort of, for lack a of better word, “works”. He’s just trying to “keep it real”. So reading the poem, I don’t find it terribly offensive. Although, if I were to hear it recited in person, I may find it offensive.

From a fellow poet: Wow Ric that was really good. I loved it. And what i love most it’s the truth and it speaks it in many volumes. I think the people will love it.

From a co-worker: I would call you but I am so filled with emotion that I am crying as I type this email. At first I didn’t think I would get through it because I was so moved by it. It generated so many emotions in me. It took me back to the 60s and how I longed to be white because it was so terrible to be black. It took me back to the cross being burned on our lawn because we were the first black family to move into a white neighborhood. It made me think of where we are today and how alive I felt when I went to hear Barack speak. Ric I loved… absolutely… loved your poem. Unfortunately I can’t put into words how much I love it. Please be sure to send me your final version. Thank you so very much for sharing it.

I will be going to 3 open mics this week. I may share this poem at the Wednesday or Thursday mics but I am still undecided. I will definitely be reading it at the Friday night open mic at AACC.

  • Wednesday, February 20, 7:30 – 10:00 – Amaranth Coffee House, Sun Building, Featured poet Mahri Best PLUS Open Mic, AACC, Arnold, MD, Sun Building (map)
  • Thursday, February 21, 7:00 – Verse, Vibes & Bites Open Mic hosted by Sistah Joy, Barnes & Noble, 555 12th St. NW, DC (map)
  • Friday, February 22, 7:00 – Poetry & Lyric Performance Club Open Mic, AACC, Arnold, MD, Humanities Rm112 (map)

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