Race Inauguration Day


Parades, but not-a-one in the meter of a march.

There were parties.

No apology. Then there were more parties.


Still many of our former owners spat at progress,

at celebration, at transparency,

our fought-for step up from nothingness.


Masked, we forgave them.

Civil Wrongs, overcome.



          No one wants

          to make the hood

            a state.


So we skinned ourselves,

zipper down the body middle,


right there on the National Mall,

the moment of the poet,

cold as her tone, enjambed America with “Love.”


Without complexion, though,

we looked exactly like

what we had become: a clear people, equal to blur.



Thomas Sayers Ellis is the author of Skin, Inc., The Maverick Room, and The Genuine Negro Hero.

You Might Also Enjoy

The Octopus Dilemma

Ned Beauman

The terms of the bet declared that for every ten seconds under sixty seconds it took the diver to wrestle the octopus out of. . .


Baffler Newsletter

New email subscribers receive a free copy of our current issue.

Further Reading

Heads Up: We recently updated our privacy policy to clarify how and why we collect personal data. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand this policy.