I am rooted. Ask the land. I am lyric. Ask the sea.
America is where I became an animal. America is where I became a nigger.
Trapped here in Segregation. Trapped here in Integration.
I am weary of working to prove myself equal. I will use education to make my children superior.
My heart is a fist. I fix Blackness. My fist is a heart. I beat Whiteness.
Before I was born, I absorbed struggle. Just looking at history hurts.
“The Identity Repairman” is from Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Copyright © 2010 by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.