Mama, I Really Did Try My Best

Mama, I really did try my best.

He did nothing wrong.

He went to the park; he was wearing a mask.

Stopped and searched because his skin was suspicion enough.

His mother is my mother, but my blue eyes and golden hair shield me from the crime

of my Negro blood.

His skin, dark, like hers, is reason enough, punishment enough, to lock him away,

hide him from society.

And still we fight violence with silence and somehow expect it to stop.

‘Mama, I really did try my best,’ I said in my one phone call.

The call I only got after begging, pleading.

Down on my knees in tears, crying for my mother.

Born of a Black woman, born of a Black woman, born of a Black woman,

whose blood runs through these very streets,

whose breasts nursed babes who would grow to hang her own children from trees for sport.

They see it in the shape of my nose.

An African man in a white man’s skin.

And my eyes are as blue as my tears are wet,

tears for my brother whose only crime was having a Black woman for a mother.

Punishment before judgement.

Walking while black,

and that one drop of Negro blood was enough to alter the value of his life.

Should I, then, consider myself lucky?

Had my skin been dark like my brother’s,

My eyes darker,

My hair curlier,

Would I even get to call my mother?

Would I even have the chance to hear her voice one last time before my soul was so cruelly snatched from this earth by those who consider my hue a threat to their own existence?

Mama, I really did try my best.

But maybe my children can do better.


By Amanda Ajomale