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poetry Little Black Boy

Writing from personal experience, Lois Fried traces the divide from days of Jim Crow to Black Lives Matter.

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Little Black Boy

By Lois Fried

My brother lived a short life on this earth, dying from heart disease at the tender age of seventeen

He was a little black boy who loved the skin he was born in

His love for life and living was in the smile that he woke with each day

He was a little black boy who loved to do all the things little boys do who lived on a farm

He was handsome, quick-witted, funny, sharp and mischievous

Sadly, others could not see in his short life, the joy he felt in the morning

They saw a black ‘n’ boy, black thief, black coon

The saddle and tack store worker saw a little black boy who he would give an evil eye if he touched the cowboy belts, cowboy hats, and shiny black boots

My brother saw one of a kind belt buckles, the black cowboy hat with a slick leather band, and a whole wall of fancy boots.

The movie theatre attendant saw a black boy who he signaled to go to the back entrance where he climbed the stairs to the balcony that was dark, dingy, and smelly with torn seats and stale popcorn

My brother ate the stale popcorn, twisted in the torn seats but smiled with the joy of seeing the latest cowboy western on the big screen

The superintendent of schools saw a little black ‘n’ boy who would never read well, or learn math

My brother looked forward to a fun ride on the school bus, going to the blackboard to do his arithmetic problems and getting a smile from Mrs. Williams when he got it right

The sharecropper saw a little boy he could work like a man and pay him a dollar and a quarter for a day’s work.  My brother saw a day of adventure and discovery in the cotton, corn and sugar cane fields that surrounded our little shotgun house

My big brother was strong, brave and courageous, facing open heart surgery at the tender age of 12 when little was known about heart disease. I am sad that he only lived life for a short time in a world that hated him just because of the color of his skin…but grateful that he took his own last God given breath…grateful that he never had a knee on his neck.

Lois Fried is a home-grown poet who loves being in the company of other inspiring poets. She is a member of the California State Poetry Society and a regular participant in the open mic reading at the Belmont Poetry Night in Belmont, CA, and Café Zoe in Menlo Park, CA. She has read her poems during a podcast for the American Payroll Association and shared her poems before an audience of over 1200 attendees at national conferences in 2019 and 2020. Her poem, Manufactured Noise… Drowning Out the Sounds of Nature, appeared on a Yammer Post in 2019. She is currently working on her poetry collection to be published in the near future.