A couple weeks ago, I shared Amiri Baraka's poem "The Mind of the President" with one of my African American literature courses comprised of 50 Black men. The guys found the first parts of the poem strange and amusing. Baraka imitates a child learning first words. Then, at the end, the child, presumably an infant Ronald Reagan, utters his first coherent thought: "Kill."
The guys were taken aback by this Baraka, whom they had never heard before I shared his work with them then. (They'll get more of Baraka from me in coming weeks).
I asked the students to consider their own transitions from half-formed, incomplete ideas to one coherent word that described them. In Baraka's view, Reagan quickly arrived at the word "kill."
I asked the guys if Baraka was writing a poem about you as a boy, what word would he use? And if he wanted to characterize you based on your first month in college, what one word would he use?
They offered various things.
As black boys:
As young black men in their first month of college