Published on Academy of American Poets (

It’s Not Really about Them, It’s about Us

Braiding my hair, working with, and not against,
the silver waves, breaking through the crests
of my crushed curls—

I consider my life, my regrets and my absences,
my not-love life at press time, the small bundle
of garbage, tied-up by the door,

and I think, looking into the mirror, As soon
as I don’t need them, that’s when they’ll come
running; it’s a law, it’s diffusion

and I think, I could write a theory of whiteness,
but I won’t, because that’s exactly what they want.
Then I follow that with,

It’s not really about them, it’s about us,
and I consider broadcasting that thought
to the whole wide world—

but instead, I sit down to piecemeal these
lines in the quiet of my quiet-dark,
for you, listening now.


Copyright © 2022 by Safia Jama. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 21, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“At first, I was going to post one line—“It’s not really about them, it’s about us”—on Twitter. But, instead, I chose to write a poem in order to understand what I was feeling.”
Safia Jama


Safia Jama

Safia Jama was born to a Somali father and an Irish American mother in Queens, New York. The author of Notes on Resilience (Akashic Books, 2020), she is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and a professor in the English department at Baruch College of City University of New York.

Date Published: 2022-01-21

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