White supremacy doesn’t love you

when it looked at us and saw that we were white, it said
“i love you.”
and we believed.
we wrapped ourselves in that cocoon of love
how good it felt to be so valuable, we thought.

when it looked at us and saw that we were white, it said
“i love you because you are not black.”
and we trembled if for a moment,
for now we knew love rested on all that we weren’t,
and yet we had no idea what it was that we were.
the waves lapping at that line in the sand, so firm and so fuzzy
how good it felt when the cool water splashed between our toes, we thought.

when it looked at us and saw that we were white, it said
“i love you, but do you love me? i need you to show me.”
and we sobbed and we grasped at its ankles,
admonishing ourselves for our failed devotion.
we’ll do anything, anything.
and so we entered the arena, swords sharpened and armor tight
ready to face the adversary that made our beloved question us.
imagine our surprise when the lions looked so much like us
hands feet breath face heartbeat just like us.
we must have imagined, then, the lions had swords too
but the red dust stung our eyes as we kicked up clouds of gravel
we dropped our visors and charged into the blur—
we should do anything for love, we thought.

when it looked at us and saw that we were white, it said
“i loved you once but you’re in my way.”
and we spun around to find a landscape of suffering unraveling behind us
that we had never before turned to face.
and there in the thick of it all
a gleaming marble throne
or a mausoleum, we could not tell.
we basked so long in the splendor of our beloved’s promise
we did not see that what it loved
was just beyond us
the chaos, the violence, the pain
that circled around the seat of power like a whirlpool.
and our beloved looked at us with a hand outstretched
beckoning us to ride the rising sea of bloodshed
or get tossed aside like ballast.

and we watched our brothers and sisters climb aboard
clinging still to that shaky promise of deliverance
and we had to decide
whether we believed
that what doesn’t hesitate to kill you could ever really love you.

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