Black Don’t Crack

By Penda Smith

Arthritis makes a comfortable home within the crevices of my mother’s bones,

cheeks stay on fleek though,

skin stay on fleek though,

what are wrinkles to black bodies?

they ask


I say,

“Black don’t crack. Our combs do.”

Old white guys seek to refute my contention,

These “scientists” carry catalysts for experiments in the palm of their hands,

they mock the cross,

Focus on graph,

Scattered plots on a x and y coordinate plane,

Focus gun,

Focus catalyst on black point,

Point to graph,


A bullet erupts from the magma chamber of a volcano,

Spews itself  on black skin,

The skin don’t crack,

It just opens,

Folds within itself,

Does not fight foreign invader.

Immune system sees black thing coming from another black thing entering a black body,

cannot tell the difference between you and bullet,

both look the same.

Redo your experiment,

this just trial and error, trial and error.


This is not the first time something has entered a black body without permission.

This is not the first time something has tried to colonize a land without permission.

This is not the first time something has demanded space without permission.

 You called yourself cracker.

snapped wrists to crack whip on back of black,
But black skin don’t crack

it just blisters and swells like swollen feet,

Men and women dance the dance of melanin,

They waltz across mahogany floors with a grim reaper,

Wrinkles have no place on their skin.

“scientists” and their daughters  want to look young too,

 They want  some of our hereditary genes,

but don’t have enough ass to fit into it,

Not enough stomach to stomach tainted water.

You asked Jesus,

a black man,

to take his black hands and turn the water into wine.

Do not cringe at the aftertaste of blood,

the hands remember,

 Cause the skin ain’t ever gonna crack,

not when it done felt the bite of a whip,

the bullet of a volcano,

Black skin,







bleed some more,


What is a crack?

a wrinkle to skin that is just another variable burning in a scientific experiment?

Just another animal being tested on in a Tuskegee experiment

When scientists gave shots of syphilis to their focus group,

This is not the first time something has entered a black body without permission,

Dear “scientists”,

We could show you how black skin refuses to crack,

if you let us die,

 of old age, first.

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