Familiar Fear – A Poem

Wrote this poem a while ago, never felt ready to share it.

Not sure what changed…

Maybe it’s because Halloween is around the corner and everyone is getting off on ‘fear’…well let me tell you, there are things a lot scarier than ‘ghosts and ghouls’…they’re cousins racism and bigotry…


I hope it helps some of you understand our experience just a little bit better.


Last week my brother came to visit.

My big, black, beautiful, brother.

My kind, loving, somewhat tortured by life brother.

My brother who has survived so much and has come out the other side standing.

Last week he came to visit and the all too familiar fear settled into my heart again.

The fear every black woman knows.

The fear for our black brothers, fathers, boyfriends, uncles, husbands and sons.

The fear that has increased,

Ever so subtly – or not –

in recent times.

Don’t get me wrong it’s an ever present fear.

A fear we got so used to, we hardly know it’s there.

A fear you can only know if your loved ones skin is as your own.

A fear you can only know when the one arrested or shot looks like your brother, your father, uncle or son.

Last week my brother came to visit.

And the ever present fear, rose all the way up from the pit of my stomach to the depths of my heart, clouding my mind and numbing my soul.

Should I remind him to stay clear of the police, remind him of his rights just in case?

Should I remind him not to walk in certain parts of the city to make sure he avoids the blades?

Last week my brother came to visit and I don’t know if I’ll be able to –

push the fear back down again,

Back to where it normally lives.

Back down into the pit of my stomach…don’t know if the racist slurs, and unjust arrests, the vicious kills, and demeaning attempts

To hold us down, will keep it right where it is.

At the core of my heart, the center of my mind, ever present, not simply so strong I can’t numb it anymore.

Last week my brother came to visit.