Urban Voices

A place for emerging urban Christian poets to be heard

March 30, 2007

Untitled Tribute

by Julian Michael

I support the corner bodega
And the seventeen-year-old girl
That works there after school
Sweeping floors and selling bubblegum to fourth graders

She is a full-time student
With a full-time job
Trying to make a little money so she can
Buy herself a textbook and
Pay her dues to the ghetto

Her homage to technology
Is reading by cell phone light long after
The sun goes down
And everybody in her tiny apartment
Is sound asleep

I join in her prayers to leave the block
Standing tall
On her own two feet
Not carried out by twelve.

People from her neighborhood don’t really understand
So they keep telling this little brown girl
To stop being so white

White – like articulate
White – like well-read
White – like getting a B-A
                    before getting a B-A-B-Y

And I keep telling her,

Be white

Like a clean slate
                    With no stains
                    No baggage and
                    No excuses
Like an empty canvas
                    And let yourself be colored in by Nietzsche
                    And Langston Hughes
                    And save a little corner to fill in with your own great discovery

Be white like a light
Outshining the doubters
The haters
The also-rans
And if you ever go back to that bodega
You tell this to the girl with the broom in her hand.

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About this week's author:

Julian says: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and consider the inner city to be a big part of my experience. I decided to try something entirely different and headed for Amherst College in Massachusetts for my undergrad work, completing a degree in Religion. In my current life, I work as a college counselor at a prep school outside of D.C. I remain very much connected to God, to the plight of those in the inner city, and to the various artistic forms that sprout up from those roots. Feel free to send me an email: I always enjoy the opportunity to share my personal story with other people and to learn from what others have to teach. God bless.

email Julian Michael

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Urban Voices' purpose is to showcase the work of emerging poets who write about issues of urban life, racial identity, reconciliation and similar themes from a Christian perspective. If you have poetry you would like to submit for possible inclusion on this site, you may send it to info@urban-verses.com. Thanks for reading and writing!