Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


On the Day Lamar Jackson’s Jersey is Sent to the Pope

in Identity/Sports/U.S. by

You’d never imagine color commentary so vivid
but when the football broadcaster explains

the opposing team won because the quarterback’s
dark skin in those dark jerseys hid that dark ball

so well, you might laugh until you cry, like I did.
You might laugh at the absurdity, the irony

dripping like it came from a lead-tainted faucet.
You might cackle like the sound of drinking water

boiling in a pot over an open flame in a cold,
December room. You might hear these words,

think a suspension is to be expected
whenever white people take aim at dark skin,

like it’s a crime to possess it, like it seeks
destruction. You might think that man will keep his job.

Remember how this is not the only time black men
have been advantageous on an American field.

I’d tell you Lamar and I were born in close proximity,
that our Black English is kin, though we not.

That my aunties might not be his but that they might
go to the same salon, sit under hair dyers

next to one another, smile because that’s what you do
when you see they haven’t killed another one of us.

I’d tell you Lamar is best friends with a rapper
in prison. That his jersey was sent to the Pope

by an Archbishop. I’d tell you his English
is not for everyone. It’s for those young,

dark, beautiful children who’d say,
you skipped over how the man said
his dark skin made him special.



Jordan Charlton is a graduate student in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s English program with a concentration in creative writing. His creative writing has appeared in Frontier Mosaic, Birdfeast, Quarter After Eight, and elsewhere. His academic interests include literature, race studies, and entertainment.


49ers suspend broadcaster for saying Ravens QB Jackson had advantage due to ‘dark skin color with a dark football’
[San Francisco Chronicle]

Pope Francis gifted custom Ravens jersey signed by Lamar Jackson

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