In America… While Black

Coffee. Black.
No sugar.
I drank a whole pot
Sitting in the dark.
This rainy Sunday morning
While I ponder
All the things you can not do
While Black
In America
Without getting shot in the back
Or shackled
Or scorned
Or belittled
Or dismissed.

Driving while Black
Walking while Black
Talking on the phone while Black
Playing at the park while Black
Going to the corner store while Black
Giving birth while Black
Marching for rights while Black
Traffic stop while Black
Resting in your own apartment while Black
Falling asleep while reading in public while Black
Walking across campus to your job while Black.

The list is mighty long we know
It goes on and on
And on
Who can even breathe while Black?

I drank a whole pot of coffee
In the dark
No sugar.
Can’t sugarcoat this truth:
In America, you can drink your coffee black
But you can’t even drink coffee while Black.


Dr. Gayatri Sethi is an educator and aspiring poet who writes about anti-blackness among brown folks in her own community in order to build solidarity among marginalized folks across races. She teaches workshops, seminars and courses on social justice, anti-racism and decolonial education. She is of Indian descent and was born in Tanzania and raised in Botswana. She currently resides in the Atlanta area and is raising (biracial) black children who respect their African-American, Indian and African heritages and cultures. Read other articles by Gayatri, or visit Gayatri's website.