if you see me, say something

From May 2016

i bear the weight of their gaze,

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and it’s surprising. damn, i must be looking

good? or am I somehow

incomplete? nope. no sore thumbs

to stick out. let's just say i'm at my most average

me: young, male, brown, with a looming threat

of facial hair.

 

the friendly voice on the p.a.

calls attention to anarchists

and unattended bags. "metro is an open system. if you see something,

say something." so i stare, too.

 

men and women but mostly men,

in blue and yellow but mostly blue, with badges and guns

but mostly guns.

somewhere

it had happened again: bombs and prayers,

followed by bombs and prayers,

followed by status updates.

 

they’re armed with batons, tasers, and guns.

me, with my attended adidas backpack

plus a brown face with a shadowy threat

of that looming beard.

 

racial profiling don’t discriminate

between brown lightbrown darkbrown blackish black.

distant cousins reunite at t.s.a.

random

screenings. one man’s pagri is another’s keffiyeh.

 

where i come from, everyone looks

like your suspects. our profiling

is more nuanced. sharper noses, longer beards. the rest,

we claim,

don’t need to be attended to.  

 

i bear the weight of their gaze

and i shrug. the world

realigned.  

 

but when the faces realigning

the world

look like derivatives of my own face,

if i gaze upon a jagged cousin

of my reflection, won't i, too,

say something?