Out NFL player and poet R.K. Russell is used to sharing his thoughts and emotions through his writing. Recently he’s focused the writing of three poems on the reasons for current protests and social unrest, and his life and perspectives as a Black man.
Russell has been writing poetry for years, publishing a book of poetry, Prison or Passion, in 2019.
He originally shared these poems with Outsports in a live reading during a virtual event we hosted on June 11.
Russell has been busy writing a memoir, building a YouTube channel with his boyfriend, Corey O’Brien, working with the NFL on inclusion initiatives, and training for the upcoming NFL season. Russell is currently a free agent.
You can read his three tribute poems here:
I’ve walked into rooms and tried to take off my blackness
To hang it up like a coat or like my ancestors
And I’ve kicked off my queerness
So to not stain the white floors
Of white rooms
Filled with white people
Who wished the door was locked
In the first place
I have asked
begged, and pleaded
time and time again to be seen as human,
and I live my life, not knowing
whether I have been heard.
When I grow old
and take my final labored breath,
in a bed surrounded by those I love.
Maybe then, or perhaps I was just lucky.
If I am beaten while I hold my hands up in peace,
thrown to the ground,
so it’s easier to look down on me,
forcefully restrained as I beg for my next labored breath,
murdered while innocent until proven otherwise,
and my best hope is to be memorialized by a cellphone screen;
I will know my plea met deaf ears.
Why do you hunt us?
Like a beast, animals, fur, claws, as if we run on all fours
You chase us down in police cars or
Inside a pick-up truck full of rifles fueled by privilege or racism or a premium blend of both
Father and son like this is a fucking bonding experience
Black is not bulletproof even though we have endured more than any porcelain doll
Like a beast, animals, Fur, claws, and it’s hunting season
Black folk being the only permitted game
You’ve belittled us for generations but we don’t know how to be small
And anything larger than you must be a beast
Animal, fur, claws, you won’t even let us speak
Afraid our mouths will reveal fangs or maybe innocence
Our pictures memorialized over the internet like deer heads for your mantel
My mother calls me after ever murder
Crying and screaming wondering if her son will be next
If I will be the big catch this time around
She should be sacred
Terrified to point where we fear our own skin
And we peel it off ourselves
Skinning our brother and sisters alive
Before you have the pleasure
Do you know why you hate us?
Beast, animal, fur, claws