James Van Der Zee

April 24, 2008
At first I was captured by music
my mind was filled only with the melodies of life
So enraptured was I by the music
that I did not see the world as black and white

then I learned that what was in my mind
was not seen through sound but sight
the differences that appear in mankind
are greater than darkness and light

The picture I print now is
an image of Harlem not tarnished by poverty
but of a road with no end
the image captured gives a glimpse
into the true life of our middle class

snap! the shutter clicks
like a sound of success echoing in the ears
of my sisters and brothers
and we shine bright beyond our years
though we are darker than the others

our images have become
distorted by years of enslavement
but I can turn negative to positive
and although the room is dark
Inside I reveal the light within us

As I walk down the streets of Harlem
Light reveals to me great potential
By the rest of the world we may be condemned
This only makes our success the more essential

And so I dodge and burn away our shortcomings
The tools I use not to fill in our faults
But expose our true radiant selves
Not only to others, but to ourselves as well

the light can reveal both the civilized
and those more unrefined
as I see both sides of life I come to realize
it should be by thought and not color that we are defined

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