A Living Dilemna in Black and White

Amatul Hannan

In the attic one afternoon
"Here it is! Your Birth certificate-"
Whoop! there it is indeed,
and pale yellow torn cornered 
sly cat-eared paper proclimation
I check it out and check my head as I read it 
its there in simple Black and White

"Father - Black, Mother - White"

Doctor ----- ------- signed and medical school ring sealed 
his name on my certificate 
"I hearby declare that this child is white"



did I read that bit right?
Momma, please explain this - I KNOW I'm not white!
My _skin_ may be pale but my _thoughts_ are not white...
What was wrong with this Doc, was he feeling allright?

What would this mean if I am indeed White?

I think about our mixed neighborhood, the crappy Bar across the 
street where pale skinned Misery slouches in and out, in and out 
on occasions 
such as Thanksgiving, Labor day, Christmas eve, the Fourth of July and 
St.Paddys day 
washing our street with sour vomit - 
the wife that screams in the night, the secret punches and pinches at 

These make up the pale wildeyed serial killers, 
Cowboys, Lumberjacks and Slavers of my stalest 3am nightmares...
nightmares in which a voice will now drawl -

"I hereby declare that this child is white"

Micsegenation swept the nation in 1968 -
                (sotto voice) all hail the tragic Mulatto!
-and a good thing too, else your humble narrator evaporate and vanish, 
banished from this poets showcase 
into the rhelm of the Dodo, 
the Unicorn, the Green Man, the Good Sameritan, the Self-Made Man,
the Goddess, the hanging Gardens, the mathematicians of Egypt, 
the Honest Politician -
and other such impossibilities.

my white mother snaps - her libral sensibilities offended by my own 
offence -
"You have to understand, you have to realise - it was hard times 
- he thought he was doing us a FAVOR!"

I turn into silence herself, 
contimplating the concept of "hard times" -

Hard times, Mamma?

Hard times NOW, and harder still times ahead
for blue-black to creme'de cocao brothers and sisters
who's birth certificates damn them -

Damned to economic inequity,

Damned to Drunk lives ingesting Drug Despair,

Damned to be Dulled into intellectual stupor,
by torn-cornered sly cats-eared and outdated textbooks.

Their own kindly signet-wearing local clinic Doctor 
might as well tell them up-front
"Take two Prozac and call me when Hell freezes over"

Hard times, Mamma?

Hard times for brown, white and black children alike
nitch marketed straight into maximum security slums.

The well meaning Doctor looked at them -
my Irish mother 
my Black father
beautiful interracial young couple, their eyes welling over with love,
and did their first child 
(born almost 24 hours after the murder of Dr King)
a favor.

A favor -
A plastic oilslick favor -
"Alms - Alms for the poor - "
thrown from the carnival truck as the Kings and Queens ride by

An ivory tower fragment, an ivy league bone
for my concience to pick

The favor of being labled at birth an overseer 
rather than an inmate
in this gentrified and pretty prison state
that someone named 


                             Amatul Hannan 
                                July 1996

Copyright © VideoPoet Digital Artist and Webweaver Amatul H. Hannan all rights reserved

[Writers] [Birdhouse]