By Caleb Rainey 

Here’s a fact:

In my birthday suit,

I’m black.

Please don’t shoot.


But when you see me

Walking at night

In a black hoodie

Or in a car too nice

You’ve got to question it...

-I mean me.

And when I take a step toward you,

Or show you my ID,

Or turn and run away from you,

Or lift my hands where you can see;

Fears too thick to look through,

And you’re too anxious to shoot.

So you pull the gun up off your hip,

If it’s not already drawn,

And you unload your clip

Until each bullet is gone.


Just like at the gun range,

You’ve shot the black bodies.

The embodiment of danger,

Hunted as a hobby.

We’re forced to watch

As hope dies in the street.

Because what is a cop,

To a “nigger” like me.

Now we’re living with bulletproof vests,

Hoping not to end up like the rest.


Here’s a fact:

In my birthday suit,

I’m black.

Please don’t shoot.


Your words weaponize

Your willful ignorance.

Working to dehumanize,

Anyone with pigment.

“You’re so articulate,”

Isn’t a compliment.

It exposes your notions,

Preconceived and atrocious,

That it’s a shock,

I’m able to control language,

When I’m suppose to be on the block,

Or attempting to get rap famous.

See, you worship my culture,

But only for its entertainment.

“You’ve got to play ball in the future,”

Is another form of unlawful detainment.


When I write “Black Lives Matter,”

You feel the need to respond,

“All Lives Matter,”

Perpetuating the national con,

So the veil of violence doesn’t shatter.


With every word you whip out,

I’m wounded to my core;

I’m overwhelmed by doubt;

Bulletproof vests don’t work anymore.


Here’s a fact:

In my birthday suit,

I’m black.

Please don’t shoot.


Your silence is like a bullet

Burrowing beneath skin

And burning through bone,

Because I was looking for kin;

Can’t win this fight on my own.

But I sounded too black,

And my burden so much bigger,

That you couldn’t have my back

Or blame the one behind the trigger.


When I ask you to speak out,

Against racist chants,

I want you to shout,

But you’re too scared to take a chance.

You keep your mouth closed,

Because you know how easy friends can turn foes,

And how privilege can become woes.


Your silence shoots my soul,

When there are lives to save,

And you have the control.

Like God turning his face away,

When Christ was forsaken.

You strand me there,

Hanging, stark naked.


Here’s a fact:

In my birthday suit,

I’m black.

Please…please don’t shoot.


BARS Fiction Editor Caleb Rainey is a Junior majoring in English and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha.