(In the spirit of Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”)

I’ve worn hats, man

I have sported big Rastaman tams that sheathed my dreadlocks when they were not in use, as antennae to my ancestors and god

I have worn tiny khufes and thought about Africa’s glory, yet to come

I have worn a black beret and was inspired by the Black Panther Party’s breakfast program for children in the liberation and defense of all people

A brown beret in solidarity with brown people, and a blue beret because it goes nice with my sweater

And one star-swept night, I’d love to earn a Crown in that Kingdom

Still, my secular Holy Grail of Hats (right now, Lord) is a cashmere gray beret with a satin lining

Oh, I’ve dug some hats, man

Dipped into church on cool Sunday mornings wearing a tan suit before taking a soft-brown fedora off my head

Strolled along city sidewalks in a black-and-cream-colored Bailey, laughing at something smart and funny the pretty brown woman on my arm just said

Walked in warm April showers donning a worn and rugged Australian Outback, digging the raindrops dripping from its brim

Sported a wide straw hat while playing the powerful djembe drum under a burning noon-day sun

Staggered in the French Quarter, where I drank everything but water, cooler than cool in a stingy-brim fedora

I’ve known some hats, man

Watching my daddy’s hat falling off his dome when he was on the couch taking his naps

But I ain’t cool like Frankie Beverly

I don’t wear no baseball caps

Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at tmcdonald@indyweek.com. 

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