Creative Submissions

Video: Between Spaces

Photo by Andrés Beltré. IG: @mr.bel3

By Henry Gonzalez


As an Afro-Latino educated in white spaces,

identity confusion was the definition of my daily basis,
I spent years immersed in stories of brave heroes with white faces
“Astute observer”—taught to define beauty by what a racist culture’s taste is
Never in stasis, experience causing constantly worse reformations,
The supreme cultural information, was to internalize self-hatred,
To learn that polo shirts and boat shoes could erase this,

assimilation offered as false salvation.

Growing up I’ve often times been told
“Man, you’re so articulate. And your thinking is darn meticulous

I don’t even see your color. To do so would be ridiculous”
My good traits couldn’t be colored,
so in my reflection, I saw only “other”

Alienation sat deep as
I learned to discover
that what my world valued in me
they saw as abnormalities
but failure, that’s what’s inside of me

And even recognizing all these communities have done to me,
I’m still learning to believe in myself…
I’m still learning to love myself
While still believing that I was lucky
because I got an education to empower myself.
But if I was one of the lucky ones
Don’t try to tell me that “All lives Matter”
when I say that Black lives do
Spitting centuries old liberal rhetoric,

acting as if we haven’t heard it before
Like “All men are created equal”
while black and indigenous blood spills on the floor
I’m not sure if our lives have intrinsic worth

History might say otherwise

But we, we as a collective, are truth-creators,

we are reality-crafters
With poetry and theory, painting, song, art, discourse, and action
we construct the truths we live with
And “All Lives Matters” tells a different truth

than the practice of our lives show

Placing a dissonant reality over our lived experience
So I say that Black lives matter
I believe that Black lives matter
And against a world that’s taught me otherwise,
I say that my life matters too
But what will be our collective truth


About the author: Born and raised in New York City, Henry Gonzalez is a Dominican-American spoken word poet, essayist, and community organizer.  At age 15, the effects of the Great Recession pushed his family to move into the conservative suburbs of Northern Virginia. From that point on, his art has been incubated in the DC Slam Circuit and NYC Spoken Word scene, having performed at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Busboys and Poets, and The Kennedy Center. Deeply influenced by Jazz and Hip-hop, he tries to infuse his poetry with heavy rhythms and emotion. He is currently a student at Deep Springs College in California, a two-year program for 28 students who form a self-governing community, operate a cattle ranch, and study liberal arts, while living in an isolated desert valley.




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