Reginald Dwayne Betts's "Parking Lot, Too" spins variations on its opening: "A confession began when I walked out of that parking lot." A confession is a story about a sin or a crime, but this confession begins before there's a story. The first variation adds one word: "A confession began when I walked Black out of that parking lot." The image of someone "walking while Black" connects to racial profiling, and soon he "meets the description of the suspect" – a theme in cases of mistaken identity in police investigations. In the poem's further variations, Blacks are repeatedly made into suspects even in everyday scenes of "walking out of a parking lot." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 16 November)
[More on the poem in the next post.]
Parking Lot, Too
Reginald Dwayne Betts, Felon, 2019
A confession began when I walked out of that parking lot.
A confession began when I walked Black out of that parking lot.
A confession began when I, without combing my hair, dressed
For a day that would find me walking out of that parking lot.
There is so much to be said of a Black man with unkempt hair:
He meets the description of the suspect; suspect is running.
I ran away think from things far less frightening than the police.
A confession began when I robed myself in black. A confession
Began when I walked out of that parking lot wearing a black
Hoodie. Things get exponentially worse when a hoodie is pulled
Over my unkempt air. A confession began when I walked out
Of that parking lot Black. A confession began when I walked
Out of that parking lot a Negro. A confession begins when
That nigga walked into the parking lot. A confession begins
With that nigga and the pistol he carries like a dick walked
Into that parking lot. A confession begins when everything you
See him doing is seen as sex. A confession begins when
That nigga walked into a parking lot & drove away with everything
Belonging to that white man. A confession begins when
My mother laid up with a man the complexion of that nigga's
Daddy. A confession begins with my mother births a child
In a city close enough to make me & that nigga almost related.
A confession begins when the police perceive us as one. We must
Be one. He could not have walked in & driven out & I walked
In & walked out on the same night & whatever gaps in the story
& slight differences in the features of our faces was just
More evidence that niggers will lie. The confession begins even if
I didn't have the fucking car. A confession begins, my confession
Began, with a woman stitching stars and stripes into a flag.