Wednesday, September 7, 2016

So, Black Lives Matter...always

So, you may be wondering why I am writing this now. There hasn't been any sort of national newsworthy police shooting recently or irrational use of police force sensationalized by the media. Sadly, though, it is only a matter of time before these events surface again. It always seems to rear its ugly head juuuuuusssssst after folks feel safe in their neighborhoods again, feel like they can trust those around them. However, there are those who never feel safe in their neighborhoods, those who are afraid to live in this country because the color of their skin combined with their gender place a target on their back before they're even born. 

And, yes, the media hypes it up. Yes, the media makes these incidents the top-of-the-hour news and spins them however their bias leans. But, the media also makes these problems visible. And, for those of us privileged enough to have been unaware of everyday racism, these stories shed light on the cracks and chasms that have been forming for decades. Racism didn't end the same day the Civil Rights Movement did. Racism didn't end the same day Black people got to vote. And racism sure as hell didn't end the same day ‘Jim Crow’ died.

So, in light of all that is happening in the 2010s, I wrote two poems. The first poem I'm leaving here, "Deferred Dreams," was written in response to the second poem (which I wrote about a month ago). It integrates lines from Langston Hughes' poem "Harlem" with America's present social and societal problems. The second poem, "Post Amble" came in a fit of twenty minutes when I was supposed to be doing homework. It is a call to White allies to do something. It uses the Preamble of the United States' Constitution to show that we need to become one whole country. If you're already familiar with the Black Lives Matter Movement and/or the total necessity to have these conversations with anyone at any time—not just in the wake of tragedy but before it, then you can probably skip over the first poem and get right on to the second one. Or, read both. I don't know. I don't tell you what to do. I'm not your mother...probably.

Deferred Dreams
My buddy Langston, he told me about 
what happens to a dream when it is deferred. 
And, right now, I just can't sleep.
I close my eyes and see
Black men and women's lives
drying up like raisins in the sun--
juice seeping from them. 

And, that, that is why Black Lives Matter. 
Because senseless violence, perpetuated
by hate, by profiling, by casual racism 
festers like a sore.

Black Lives Matter because they
run and run in an endless cycle of 
self defense, police violence, 
Black retaliation, violence, protests,
violence, death, violence, death, violence.

White standers by watch, 
They wring their hands unsure of 
whose lives matter, or if they matter at all. 
Their mere observation stinks of rotten meat. 
They participate in that casual racism that prepares
their fellow Americans for slaughter. 
        cross the street.
        clutch their bag. 
        start sentences with, "I'm not racist, but..."

There is no but. 
There is no reason for these actions.
There is no response to this onslaught of deep-seated
violence and hatred. 

The cries of 
"All Lives Matter" 
"Blue Lives Matter" 
crust over the experiences of our Black brothers and sisters--
a syrupy sweet concoction meant to pit us versus them.

We are a divided country. 
We see this every day. 

White standers by, pick up the mantle. 
Stop wringing your hands.
Use them to lift up your brothers and sisters
whom—for too long—have sagged under this heavy load. 
Be a part of this movement. 
Be upset. 
Be an ally.

Together, we explode.
Our hopes and dreams 
flare and catch, 
spreading a fire that
cannot and will not
be extinguished. 

The next poem is a more direct conversation with those who know there is a problem but do not know what to do about it. It may be enough to just let your friends know that you’re there. It may not. You have to be ready to engage in hard conversations, open those cans of worms, talk about the racial issues that make us uncomfortable. We must build a future worth living in. And right now? This isn't it. 

Post Amble
We the people
are angry. We are sick.
We are tired.

We are raising our voice
in order to form a more perfect union
with our Black brothers and sisters.

Too many of whom have died at
the hands of those who’re meant to
establish justice, who’re meant to insure domestic tranquility.

We are frustrated at those who
provide the common defense
of “All lives matter.”
But, you see, Black lives, they don’t matter more,
But, Black lives matter.
Too many of us have forgotten.

So, before we forget Alton
Before we forget Philando,
Before we remember to forget whoever is
next and next and next,
we must stand with our brothers and sisters to
promote the general welfare in our country.

Now is the time
to provide a space
in which they feel safe,
in which they feel home.

Now is the time
to help them to safety on an
elevated railroad.
Now is the time to
shout and protest and rally
from St. Paul to Ferguson.
We must secure their blessings of liberty.

Now is the time
to share this burden
wherever you are.

We, the people, do ordain and establish this
constitution of fairness, of justice,
of being on the right side of history.

Now is the time to band together.
We are a many-colored revolution
that demands equality.

Now is the time to become the
United States of America.

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