Not Too

Posted: May 21, 2010 in Poetry

First planning meeting of the Copper Conundrum last night.

It is going to be STELLAR!

CONTEXT: April, 2010

My awareness of racism in the country has been amplified lately. An encounter with a traffic cop while I had two friends in my car that happened to be black, right before I read ‘The Colour of Justice’, (for a different, yet unwritten, poem), and then started hearing more and more about people trying to ban niqabs and claiming it is about human rights.

What a mess.

I am not sure this poem works the way I meant it to, but the intent is there.

Also, for the record, this isn’t a condemnation of my parents. This is the way everyone was at the time, in the culture I grew up in.

Where I WILL condemn is when I hear some of this same crap today.

I recently heard a co-worker complaining that a gay cousin brought his partner to a family reunion. “Why should I have to explain that to my kids?”

His kids range from about 12-17.


    Not Too

I grew up in the land
Of the middle, way out on the left coast.
Not the middle path
But the middle class
Of basement family rooms
And summer trips every other year.
Our glimpses of the rich and poor
Made them seem alien,
Or at least foreign,
While our wealth went unnoticed
Or unacknowledged.

But we were the enlightened
Liberal progressives of
Pierre E.T.
We eschewed all open displays
Of bigotry
And invited all to feel
Comfortable with their
Race, religion, or sexuality…
Just not too comfortable.

While gay continued to be the
Perfect schoolyard insult
To leave boys in an apoplexy
Of denials and fisticuffs, or at
Least a little greco-roman wrestling,
We were told it was okay for
Other people to be gay…
Just not too gay.
They were free to do what
They wanted as long as we
Normal folks didn’t have to
Think about it too hard.
They were fine as long
As they kept it comfortably hidden
Behind a veneer of sameness.
“And we would still love you,
We just wouldn’t want you
To have to go through all that.”
The illusion of acceptance mixed with shame
In a nice hetero-smoothie of

And we accept all religions,
Except for maybe those weird ones
That talk about eating holy flesh
Like a cannibalistic fetish. Our
Religion was more culture than belief
So everyone could go ahead and
Be a Catholic, Muslim or Jew…
Just not too much of a Catholic, Muslim or Jew.

Keep your beliefs and rituals
Behind closed, non-descript doors
And we tell you that we
Are going to outlaw things that
Are important to you
Be assured that it is only for your and
our own good.
That dagger could be a weapon, sure
And that niqab may mean it is
A different person sitting in that
And the last thing we want
Is unapproved learning…
“Can’t you all just try to fit in
By adopting OUR standards of
What it means to think fof yourselves?”

And we had nothing against black people.
We didn’t actually KNOW any,
But we were sure they were nice.
I mean, we saw the U.S. news
But the Cosby Show balanced that
Out, right?
It was perfectly okay to be black,
just not too black.
As long as you integrate nicely
And don’t draw too much attention
To yourself, we are cool.
We all know that hip-hop just
Means gang-banger, so we will
Be having none of that and why
Can’t you just let by-gones
Be by-gones and get over that
Whole slavery thing.
We SAID we were sorry and
That WAS a long time ago…

So if I find myself driving
Down the highway with two of
My brothers with a melanin
Surplus in my car,
Should I expect an officer
Of the law to look at us with
I wanted to convince him I was
Really Rick Rubin, but he was
Having none of it.
But he was just doing his
Job. Profiling serves the greater good,
And we have come so far. Besides,
Canada isn’t racist.
Or at least it’s not too racist.


Next is a poem from a workshop that may become a bigger poem…


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