Ricardo Aleixo was born in 1960 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He is the author of six books, including his latest Pesado demais para a ventania: antología poetica (Todavia, 2018). Best known for his poetry’s visual and social characteristics, his work draws connections between concrete poetry and ethno-poetry. In 2004, Aleixo won a grant from the Fundação Biblioteca Nacional (National Library Foundation), and in 2010 he won the “Literatura para Todos Award” from the Brazilian Ministry of Education. He lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
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Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan I am whatever you think a black man is. You almost never think about black men. I will always be what you want a black man to be. I am your black man. I’ll never be only your black man. I am my black man before I am yours. Your black man. A black man is always somebody’s black man. Or they are not a black man at all, but a man. Just a man. When they say that a man is black, what they mean is that he is more black than he is man. But all the same, I’m a black man to you. I’m what you imagine black men to be. I can spill onto your whiteness the blackness that defines a black man in the eyes of someone who is not black. The black man is the invention of the white man. It is believed that to the white man falls the burden of creating all that is good in the world, and that I am good, and that I was created by whites. That they fear me more than they fear other white people. That they fear me, but at the same time desire my forbidden body. That they would scalp me for the doomed love they bear for my blackness. I was not born black. I’m not black every moment of the day. I am black only when they want me to be black. Those times that I am not just black, I am as adrift as the most lost white person. I am not just what you think I am.