16 pages 32 minutes read

Danez Smith

& even the black guy’s profile reads 'sorry, no black guys'

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2017

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Summary and Study Guide


In line with much of Danez Smith’s poetry, “& even the black guy’s profile reads ‘sorry, no black guys’” is a poem that intertwines intersectional social commentary with powerful imagery. The poem was published in Smith’s 2017 collection Don’t Call Us Dead and has also been published in The New York Times. In the poem, the narrator reflects on internalized racism present in the gay community, writing an optimistic message towards the conclusion. As with other poems by Danez Smith, this piece combines a sharp commentary on society with vivid natural imagery. As a prose poem with no capitalization, “& even the black guy’s profile” also fits into contemporary poetry movements that play with poetic structure as a key aspect of the content of the poem.

Poet Biography

Danez Smith (they/them) is a contemporary poet born in St. Paul, Minnesota. All of Smith’s books published to date have been highly awarded: Homie (2020) was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the 2020 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry; Don’t Call Us Dead (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award; and [insert] boy (2014) was awarded the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and Lamda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Smith has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize, among other fellowships and honors.

While Smith’s interests as a poet have evolved over time in terms of both craft and subject, many of the same tensions and themes run throughout their collections of poetry. In Smith’s earlier works, [insert] boy and Don’t Call Us Dead, Smith explores race, sexuality, gender, and violence using both personal narrative and sharp social commentary. The poem “& even the black guy’s profile reads ‘sorry, no black guys’” is a perfect example of Smith’s oeuvre, as it explores internalized racism and homophobia for both the narrator and subject of the piece.

Poem Text

Smith, Danez. “& even the black guy’s profile reads ‘sorry, no black guys.’” 2017. Academy of American Poets.

NOTE: This poetry guide refers to 2017 print publication of Don’t Call Us Dead by Graywolf Press; online versions of the text may have different appearances or line breaks given the form of the poem.


A short prose poem, “& even the black guy’s profile reads ‘sorry, no black guys’” begins with a scene evoking nature and concludes with a personal message. The first-person narration describes internalized self-hatred with a metaphor of “a tulip, upon seeing a garden full of tulips” (Line 1) that “sheds its petals/in disgust” (Line 1) and wishes a bee to carry its pollen to another type of flower, a “rose bush” (Line 2). This tulip is intended to reflect “black guys” (Title) who reject other Black men outright as dating prospects.

The poem moves from the tulip imagery into a bedroom scene, in which an imagined person looks in the mirror to “see a man you refused to love” (Line 3). The narrator continues speaking to this person, remembering a small child dreaming of "soap suds and milk” (Line 3), wishing for them to see themselves as “beautiful & / lovable & black & enough” (Lines 4-5); the narrator locates their perspective in the poem only once, in the final line, as they declare themselves similarly “enough” (Line 5).