Who are you? No really.
Let’s put on a pot of tea.
You don’t know me.
I’m not one of the UNCF poster children
that smile sweet banana leaf grins
across a reflecting television screen
I am Maya Angelou’s stern Grandmother voice
“Baby, what would you know about love?”
I am the voice that loved you before you knew love
Would you like some more sugar with your tea?
So tell me what is it that you do?
I only ask because
you look fine decent and upstanding
Most women wouldn’t
mind you touching them on their backs as
you escort them across a street
or protectively help them into cars
never knowing where that car will take them
It takes them not into back alley ways
or vacant lots
although you have been known to keep company there on occasion
You’re the renaissance everyman from everyland
In every hallway of every high school on
Every corner of every parking lot
you piece in well in the quilt of blue and black slacks
racing down corporate commuter routes
man next door
the boy down the street
the hooper, the student, the father, the doctor
I see you in the thick plush seats of movie theaters
where she plays footsies with you
on a sticky gray floor littered with bright yellow popcorn
You smooth talk bar flies with
healthy helpings of dapper drinks
as you caress young ladies hands
Sometimes you’re even her man
But are you a rapist?
Oh did I offend you?
Please don’t take offense.
Because although I could qualify that question
I-know-that-every-man-is-not-a-rapist or a potential rapist
I can’t say that every woman who is raped is
given the same option
And I say this not because I buy the myth
that brown men are beasts predisposed to be rapist,
because rape is not a color, it is an act
And I believe that you are human enough to
formed every time a woman must ask herself the silent question
Are you a rapist?
You say No that like it is somehow
a foreign word to you.
like saying it would be like lying to yourself
“No,” is a foil inserted obtrusively in your self-conception
a penetrating grain of sand that irritates the man you think you are in your mind
but yet the irritation for most of you
is no bigger than the pea in the princess’s feather pillow
You say no like you never heard
your boy talking about how he used to
run trains on girls in his mama’s basement
and kick them out because he had to be in church on Sundays
You say no like you never thought
down the block
likes it rough because
because she’s thick and you heard she let them hit it from behind
any anyway, all the brothers watch every inch of her ample cheeks moving
while she is pushing a baby stroller
You say, “No”
like you never hung with the boys
talking about scandalous females are especially
who lie on ballas just to get some money
to get all up in his pockets
You say no like you never walked away from sex
and heard that strange soulless silence
the kind that only comes from a death
why did she just lay there the whole time?
Nah, that wasn’t you right?
Who would do some messed up stuff like that
poking the eyes out of pretty petunias
and spilling petals on the ground?
So what if you didn’t check your friend?
That doesn’t make you capable of being a rapist does it?
That doesn’t make you an accomplice in to the fact?
If it was your sista your mama, your daughter
you would pummel him, obliterate him
Him who tried to defile what was related with you
But even Titus killed Levinia,
his raped and silenced daughter
after defending her honor
Because the sheer sight of her reminded him of his impotence
Because although we all loved Pac
and he said he didn’t do it
he himself admitted to standing by and watching
as a group of men
raped not a white girl
no, your sister
Because when it was your sister they didn’t even ask her name.
I said, they didn’t even ask her name.
But every rapist has a name
besides rapist, don’t they?
So I ask
Who are you, really?
Are you willing to view your human sisters
as more than just a hole in the wall
whether you think she’s high class or a hoochie
Are you willing to view her as something more than
an accessory, a challenge, a force to be subdued?
Are you willing to be polite enough to be rude
and say naw dawg
that ain’t never cool?
Are you willing to do more than be sorry
when it isn’t
swimming out there in that ocean
Maybe remove the grains of doubt from your minds
until we create shores
that we can actually walk upon?
Or is that too much
Too much that has been taken
too many have been silenced
too many sisters have had their broken bodies
used as makeshift mortuaries
some man’s inner lust for
an ill perceived notion of manhood
she couldn’t be a human, a woman, and a face because
he couldn’t be a man
without being on top of her
take this cup of tea my love
because I say it not with malice
but with certain words
I say it because some day, some woman may cower in the corner
lift up the hem of her shirt
pull out a .45 and shoot you
without you even understanding why
I say it because God made you
to move beyond the moon and be far greater than your small crater
so I’m asking you to climb out
and ask yourself that uncomfortable
Who are you?