Picturing Success

Sun, 10/14/2012 - 04:08 -- tyra506


United States
41° 48' 1.4112" N, 87° 36' 13.7736" W

Think of a Polaroid,
with its thick, white border around my
snapshot of Kadeem,
little boy with shiny onyx skin
squatting behind white bars
on my uncle’s porch
by himself.
Face pressed hard to the wood,
he reminds me of the near half a million*
Black men sitting
in cold cement cells
barred in isolation by oppression
idleness and self-defeat;
their potential to achieve
on lock down by those same bars The World wants him
to stand behind later in his life.

“SMILE!”… quick click, burst of light.
I turn it around to view
10 megapixels of family
gathered before a turquoise horizon.
Same little black boy with the shiny onyx skin,
all grown up, stands in front.
The pearl white cap and gown set
is the perfect contrast against
his complexion.
Reminiscent, I
picture an old Polaroid
and smile.
The photo just taken, displays a Black man
in a fight to slay historical lies--
yet winning.
And as my grandmother shouts,
“It’s time to celebrate!”
I wonder:
Damn, Polaroids... Do they even still make those?



A strong poem concerning not only social perceptions, but the power and ability to change and alter those perceptions. The last line ("Damn, Polaroids...do they even still make those?") is a simple yet effective tool which reflects the previous section's foreshadowing and its failure to develop. Using two photographs, much less two different types of photography, to address overcoming stereotypes is something I've never really seen in a poem--I like it!

Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741