ODE TO THE ONLY BLACK KID IN THE CLASS – CLINT SMITH III

You, it seems,
are the manifestion
of several lifetimes
of toil. Brown v. Board
in the flesh. Most days
the classroom feels 
like an antechamber. 
You are deemed expert
on all things Morrison,
King, Malcolm, Rosa. 
Hell, weren't you sitting 
on that bus, too?
You are everybody's 
best friend 
until you are not. 
Hip-hop lyricologist. 
Presumed athlete. 
Free & Reduced sideshow. 
Exception & caricature.
Too black & too white
all at once. If you are successful
it is because of affirmative action. 
If you fail it is because
you were destined to. 
You are invisible until 
they turn on the Friday
night lights. Here you are —
star before they render
you asteroid. Before they
watch you turn to dust.