Whitey’s on TRAPPIST-I

Azura Tyabji

inspired by Gil Scott Heron

Another black woman
has crumbled to take a bullet in record time again
there is no spaceship named after her
we forget she had a name outside of bulk order eulogy
Whitey is 40 light years away
making history in the way white men
love to be the fist to tame something that is content with being left alone

Whitey has dreams of more heroic adventures
than his name being remembered after his funeral

Ben Keita is lynched in Lake Stevens
and Whitey is 40 light years away
He’s terraformed his new planet by now, living the fantasy of growing trees unhaunted by a black boy’s neck
all the fruit that hangs here is cruelty-free
history too heavy to ship
So Whitey left it behind

The families of all the Black kids gone too soon
turn their faces in the pictures towards the wall as Whitey lives a new slate
One step for mankind, but we’re stuck 3/5 of the way
So why applaud a white man for doing what he does best? Gaslighting our trauma to fuel his spaceships/industry?

The Keystone XL Pipeline starts running and Whitey is 40 light years away
He has discovered unfrozen water
Puts his feet in a lake as compliant as a mirror
The long drink goes down easy, but starts to blister his throat with lead and oil
Rashes bloom angry with nostalgia on his skin and he thinks he’s learned what it is like to starve
to have a planet set against you
Reach into a well and lure only up betrayal

Whitey is dissolving in lead and don’t this feel familiar?
He is on some other hero’s leftovers
This planet too, has nothing left to give.  

Meanwhile back on Earth
America’s crumbled under its weight
History too heavy for the flag to fly straight anywhere but a funeral
We have decades of mourning and centuries of healing.

Whitey returns to Earth thirsty for forgiveness and we turn his ass away
We don’t need him no more and we be damned if we let him appropriate this joy
In our renewed Earth
we have forgotten the language for “thank you, officer”
We have dissolved his borders, broken his prisons, and blocked his revolving door of oppressors
Here the water is GOOD again
In it we have baptized our families with names more fitting than criminal
We’ve renamed our constellations after our dead, for they deserve the heaven you kept from them
Here, every brown kid is a star worth wishing on and every black girl is a sun so bright she can never go missing
And Whitey asks how much a ticket back to Earth cost

And we say we don’t need your money no more
We’ve burned it all for warmth, but mostly for fun
We ask “what are you willing to give back?” instead

We are the reparations at the center of the universe
And Whitey
Is 40 light years away

Originally published in Moss: Volume Three.
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