I can tell cause
the number of black girls with
fresh braids and
white toenails

is rising with the temperature
I’m reading insta captions about
socks on concrete and  jolly rancher kids
in Chance the Rapper’s voice, and
our first community barbecue
was christened by a white woman’s
ceremonial 911 call which
means, it’s summertime, right?
So I go through my checklist

Yeah, I can sneak in the country club pool today
No, I don’t wanna get my hair wet
and no,
this year I won’t laugh
when Becky runs up to me, beaming
because look
She’s so tan, she’s almost
as dark
as I am
No, I won’t let her grip my

wrist the way she manipulated
her American Girl Dolls
Won’t let her

bend it like
until she makes a

Venn diagram of our forearm skin tones
I think this year
I will match her enthusiasm
Inflect my voice the way she does
and say
OMG, I like, totally hope you don’t get pulled over for no reason
HAHA right?? Be SO careful walking into your own home
Maybe even
WOW, you are dark! Time to start working twice as hard, lol
I’ll remind her that she’s still not oppressed
That she can still fall asleep

in her university common room
That she can’t say nigga
here or there
She can’t say nigga
She cannot always
sing along
Even if

it’s in a song, this —

is summertime, right?

Defending our melanin, poolside

Needing master’s permission for

barbecues and lemonade stands

This summer

little black boys will

tear up their socks on concrete,

running home like their life depends on beating the streetlight


Because it does.


--Lauren Saxon