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The “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publishing franchise’s recently released “I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage, and Hope” includes a work by Hamilton’s Chenelle Williams. The clinical director of Pinnacle Treatment Center in southern New Jersey captures an everyday anxiety experienced by thousands of Americans who happen to be of African ancestry. Her poem is called “Clear and in Plain Sight.”

Clear and in Plain Sight

Morning drive down 78
Sun’s high and bright, not a cloud in the sky
Fastlane ridin’, I look in my rear view
Deep breath . . . Hands 10 and 2
Make sure they’re clear and in plain sight
Slow down, five miles below the speed limit
I didn’t call my friend back Sunday
She probably still needs me
It can’t be today
Turn down the volume
I’m probably too loud
Why the hell am I blasting NWA right now
Hands clear and in plain sight
I didn’t say I love you to my mom last night
It just cannot be today
I wonder if he knows how I feel about them
Someone strange sat outside my house the other day
I didn’t do anything . . . Just on my way to work
But why do I need to have my
Hands, 10 and 2, Clear and in plain sight
Should I just pull over?
No, wait, I’ll merge right
Go ‘head and pass me
IO didn’t say my prayers last night
God please let him pass me
He merged right
Heart beating outside my chest
Okay what was it my dad taught me?
Keep your hands clear of anything and in plain sight
Speak slowly and clearly. Only speak when spoken to
Yes, sir. No, sir. No sudden movements
If he pulls me over, drive to a well-lit highly populated area
I’m scared
I didn’t do anything
My hands are clear and in plain sight
Why is he following me?
Are my genetics that suspicious?
Sweating, shaking. He merges left
I exhale, not guilty
I was scared
Because the way I was born is a threat
I’m tired. I park my car. I walking work
“Good morning. How was your weekend?”
“Well . . . I didn’t really do anything.”

“I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage, and Hope,” edited by Amy Newmark and Breena Clarke, 390 pages, $14.95,Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC.

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