Negro Paranoia

Light and Dark, Grace Long

I will be shot 

by this white man 

because I come into 

his store every day 

and disturb his displays. 

I am always fingering 

the etched shot glasses 

and the Elvis-emblazoned 

postcards near the Kama Sutra 

picture books. And it’s a manufactured 

fact that black people do not buy 

knickknacks and black people who 

carry backpacks can’t be trusted. 

So, I will be shot by this white man, 

who has a gun stored somewhere, 

I’m sure of it. Probably a rifle. 

Probably behind the counter. 

Probably a revolver. Probably 

under the cabinet with the porcelain 

bears in overalls and sundresses 

picnicking in circles of grass. 

I will be shot by this white man 

in front of the bears, but the bears 

don’t snitch and neither does Elvis 

and black people with backpacks 

don’t buy knickknacks can’t be trusted 

and I am always disturbing him 

and fingering things that don’t belong 

to me and it is a manufactured fact 

that if you aren’t shopping 

you are trespassing 

and trespassers will be shot. 

About the Author

Khadijah Green · Oakland University

Khadijah Green graduated from Christian Brothers University with a BFA in Creative Writing in 2018. “Negro Paranoia” was first published in Oakland Arts Review.

About the Artist

Grace Long · Central Michigan University

Grace Long is a senior at Central Michigan University and is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Public Relations with a minor in Multimedia Design. She is passionate about design and photography and loves being able to create something beautiful and her own. This piece first appeared in The Central Review.

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