• Angelica Heaney

“What They Don’t Tell You About Black Boys”

This poem was originally published on The Pittsburgher’s predecessor, The Dog Door Cultural.


Black boys are smart

in schools and not streets

they provoke thoughts not opps in neighborhoods

divided by

man-made boundaries

they get to class before the bell rings

ready to digest more knowledge than hot chips

raise their hands and spit that “hot ishh” about

mathematics, science, art, history, & english.

Black boys are resilient

i heard somebody say they grow from concrete

they know how to turn their losses into lessons

& can embrace being weak

they’ve made the decision to live on for their brothers

who have been silenced by the hands of injustice & misery.

Black boys are gentle like mothers touch

they both want and need

hugs, kisses, security, & unconditional love

gentle like cocoa butter & oil on ashy skin

they heal others while they heal alone

wear scars made out of rose petals

learned how to stitch their wounds up on their own.

Black boys are underrated

like life, like liberty, like the pursuit of happiness

they have dreams that the system is eager to suppress

but still can’t diminish

got motivation that sprouts from within the self

bloom despite distress

don’t always come in first place

but they always finish.


Black men are truth

raw & rare

Black men are revolution

like afro

like fists’ held high in still air

tongues not foreign to the flavor of words that have

been crafted by their ancestors ancestors.

Black men are hungry

for the taste of the beads of sweat that dripped down the lines of their

greatest greatest grandfathers & mother’s backs

sugar plantations made their perspiration sweet

so that when history was spit at them it would be easier to swallow.

Black men don’t make history easier for ignorant mouths to swallow

they speak both king and x

they are reform reincarnated

achieve progress by all means

& won’t settle for less.


Black men are Leaders

are Lovers

are Fathers,

somebody’s Son

they are Grandbabies

they are Brothers, blood & not blood

are Homies & Strangers,

they feel like We do

Black Boys bloom into Black Men

who are People too. ▲



Angelica Heaney is from Chicago. She is an undergrad at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign majoring in Sociology and double minoring in Afro Studies and Creative Writing. Poetry is, in fact, her first love and she also enjoys eating peaches.


This poem first appeared on angelicaheaneypoetry.com.