We Want Some Brothers up on the Wall

A black man’s job should never make him think
about Spike Lee movies, so I won’t
go to the next staff meeting and joke
about there being no brothers
on the wall in any of the office posters.
Besides, there’s only one other brother in the office
and a couple of sisters, and, if they missed
out on the joke, this job would be lonelier than it is.
I know I should be better
than counting the number of black faces
in every room I walk into, but I’m still a slave
to the mathematical proof of one black face
+ one black face = infinity or zero
black faces because America
doesn’t know the difference between two black faces
and an armada of black faces.
America only knows a black face means it’s time to fire
off a question about basketball or Black Panther.
If there were more brothers on the wall
and more brothers and sisters in the hall,
then maybe I wouldn’t leave
my door closed so much. But maybe
I would close it more because I don’t know
how to love a black face because I never wanted to
see my own face as anything more than a rental
that wasn’t likely to make it
past its warranty. I’m only playing
a role. I’m Mookie. I’m Raheem. I’m the Mayor.
I’m the heat making the world
squirm and scowl and hate
God for making me.

Jason McCall
Jason McCall has an MFA from the University of Miami. His collections include Two-Face God; Dear Hero,; Silver; I Can Explain; and Mother, Less Child. He is co-editor of It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop. He is an Alabama native, and he teaches at the University of North Alabama.