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I Am A Fugitive

Editor's note: This piece was written in response to George Floyd's murder.

I am a fugitive. I am on the run. I hope my crime never catches up with me.

Let me take you to the scene of the crime. It was November 21, 1982. It was a beautiful Sunday evening. Things were going well, then it happened. I can't describe to you what I was thinking when I did it. Even after all this time, I still have no plausible explanation for my crime. It just happened. I was born. I committed the crime of being born Black, and living in America. The crime carries a life sentence.

The pigment of my skin was a dastardly deed against the country I was born into. That skin wears another skin. Before it's ever seen, my pigment is nigger, thug, scary, unintelligent, a commodity, easily disposable. I didnt choose either; I'm forced to wear both.

My crime of being born with this black skin should have been my blessing. Instead it's been my curse. That skin is beautiful. It's strong, intelligent, powerful, spiritual, charitable, sexy, fun, influential, stylish. Oh that skin, if you could ever see it, can move mountains and walk on water. I wish I could show that skin, but I can't. People simply refuse to see that skin. I'm forced to wear the other.

And so, my fugitive journey began. I'm on the run from one and on the run to the other. I'm forced to run away from the skin that was forced upon me. I'm constantly having to peel off layers of that skin so I can show my true skin. But, every time I peel off one layer, like skin, it's just replaced again by the perception of others. So, I run...

I run from the layers... They are easily replenished but I keep running. In the midst of running, I start to lose hope. I see the bodies of other fugitives lying in the street. They too, were forced to wear skin other than their own. They too committed an act against humanity by being birthed with magical melanated skin. They didn't run fast enough to shed the skin that was forced upon them.

I run, hoping to one day prove my innocence. I run, hoping that I won't have to be tired as Fannie Lou Hamer. I run, hoping that a nightmare will become King's dream. I run, hoping that tears of agony become tears of joy. I run, hoping one day to display the magic in my melanin. I run, hoping one day I will be free to just walk.

But today I run, just trying to make it to tomorrow...

I am a fugitive. And so, I run...

Find out more about J. Johnson at and

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