‘He thinks he’s Black’

by Ruben Beltran

Inspired by Brother Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun’s article in the December 2018 Bay View, Ruben created this piece in support of the “I am 1619” movement. He also sends his love and support to his Brother Mandu Ra. – Art: Ruben Beltran

Since I became “woke” about the true level of racism and injustice in this country, it has become easier to recognize the proverbial “house negro.” One of them recently commented to another prisoner, “He thinks he’s Black,” referring to my constant defense of Black people and anti-racist views and loud comments about that racist pig in the White House.

Of course, he didn’t say this to my face. The response would have been immediate and devastating to his “house negro” mentality, and he knew that. I’m Puerto Rican and not “dark” enough to be seen as Black, but I know the history of my country and the role that enslaved Africans played in the enrichment of that history, and I’m proud to have in my blood the DNA of such a race.

And it’s sad to see a Hispanic who doesn’t know his culture’s history and thinks and acts like “he is White.” I really wanted to respond to his ignorant comment, but I didn’t want to expose or put on the spot the friend who told me about the comment. So instead, I decided to use another of my small talents and write a poem that would express how I feel about the subject. Hope you like it.

If I Was a Negro

If I was a negro,
I would carry in my veins the blood of my ancestors
A race of warriors, kings and queens,
All of them living within me.
I would wear on my skin the scars of the lashes they gave me,
Because neither the whip of the master
Nor the hate of the overseer
Could break the African spirit
Or make our race disappear.

If I was a negro,
I would fight the forces of oppression,
The evil of hatred,
The brutality of racism,
The injustices of segregation.
I would march through the streets, fist in the air,
Yelling, Black power! Black power!
Breaking down barriers everywhere.

If I was a negro,
It would live in my spirit
The rebellion of Nat Turner,
The fierceness of Kunta Kinte,
And the wisdom of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

I would have in my heart
The strength of the Black Panthers
And the resolve of Rosa Parks.
I would have been at home plate
With Jackie Robinson,
Writing history
With every swing of the bat.

If I was a negro,
I would had gone underground with Harriet Tubman,
Walked with Martin Luther King,
Stood side by side with Malcolm X,
No justice, no peace!
I would have lectured with Frederick Douglass
From coast to coast.
Spreading a message of freedom,
Dignity and hope.

If I was a negro,
I would have broken with every step
The ghostly links of the chains
That once held my race.

If I was a negro,
I would hold my head high
Because our race was the first
And that is my pride.

Send our brother (the artist for the beloved Uncle Du comic strips) some love and light: Ruben Beltran, 10A3301, Sullivan CF, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg NY 12733-0116. And send some love and light, too, to the writer and model for Uncle Du, aka Mandu Ra: Emmanuel Johnson, 98A1900, Southport CF, P.O. Box 2000, Pine City NY 14871.