News Poetry: The Good Negro

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Gregory Diggs wrote this poem in April 2015 when  nationwide Black Lives Matter protests were occurring following the death of Freddie Gray who sustained spinal injuries and suffered a coma during transport by the Baltimore police.  Three of the six officers involved were acquitted at trial and the prosecutor dropped charges against the remaining three.  Gregory Diggs was a father, an educator, a community activist, and a poet.  A leader in Rename St*pleton for All, he worked for the Culture, Equity & Leadership Team of Denver Public Schools. He was recognized for his  mighty mind, his generous heart, and his ferocious desire for justice.  Gregory Diggs died unexpectedly on February 24 and this community mourns.

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The Good Negro

I have strived to be the Good Negro
One Good Negro among many other Good Negroes
Hard work. Education. Law abiding citizen.
Love of Honor, Service Duty.
Love my country: America
Proudly.

And so it has come to pass.
That even with the news
The news of another person of color dying
at the hands of my government
The news of people in pain
The news of unrest and rioting
And the horror and pain that I feel

I realized…just yesterday
That I shrug that off in the morning.
As if nothing is happening.
And play the Good Negro
Happy. Warm tidings to my colleagues at the office.
Like Carleton Banks, dancing to his favorite Tom Jones tune.
Like Pharrell Williams singing Happy at the Grammy Awards

The Good Negro.
Making sure that White Folks feel okay
Being Careful not to be an Angry Nigger
I don’t want to scare anyone or hurt any feelings.

But as the sun sets
I put the Good Negro away.
I feel the anger and pain.
And it is outrageous
And I am annoyed
By nice, liberal white folks, well meaning
Who want to feel “sad” for a City or “sad” for rioting
Wondering how Black folks think that destroying things
Will help them gain sympathy and justice.
Really?

It’s morning now.
Today, I think the Good Negro face will stay packed away
So today, don’t ask me how I feel or what I think
If you don’t really want to know.
Because I just might tell you.
For Real.
And you will wonder where Good Negro went.

The Political Slogan of “Black Lives Matter”
Represents noble and wishful thinking.
The Truth is. Black lives do not matter in America.
Colored lives don’t matter
Women’s lives don’t matter.
Some of us just pretend that they do.

I wish someone would ask me how I am doing today.

Thanks Good Negro
Your service has been exemplary.
But I am putting you away today.

 

Photo credit: Jacqueline St. Joan
Dr. Gregory Diggs was a father, an educator, a community activist, and now a poet. A leader in Rename St*pleton for All, he worked for the Culture, Equity & Leadership Team of Denver Public Schools. Those of us who knew him recognized his mighty mind, his generous heart, and his ferocious desire for justice. Gregory Diggs died unexpectedly on February 24 and this community mourns.

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