What Representation Isn’t
Representation is a gift
Something that gives people hope.
A fixture they can point to on high
And say, “I can do that too.”
Representation is cool.
A trend TV execs and publishers
can tell their assistants to
Representation is a war.
A battleground where people decide
What forms do
And do not belong.
Representation is a closed door.
A barrier people can point to
And say, “We don’t exclude others.
Look at her.”
Representation is charity.
Something given to those who have little,
So those that have much more
may feel like good people.
Representation is a salve.
A palliative given so that those being crushed
do not imagine beyond the table
stacked on top of their backs.
Representation is a ghost.
Something that haunts those who have everything,
with what they have taken
And the privileges they may lose.
Representation is a collective complaint.
A reminder of cruelties inflicted
and promises broken.
A howl for change.
We know what representation is.
What it isn’t reparations.
What it isn’t healthcare.
What it isn’t a roof over your head.
What it isn’t justice.
Representation may give you hope.
It might guide and fuel,
but it will never free you.