I was (and still am) sickened by the disgusting comments being made on social media in the days and week after Mike Brown and Eric Garner’s murders. My only encouragement came from people who were actively speaking out about the injustice in a productive and meaningful way. Yes, this about color. Yes, this is about right and wrong. Yes, this is about how we can do better as a country when African American men as disproportionately jailed (often wrongfully) and murdered by police. I am a descendant of many hard working, God fearing black men. My father is a black man and my brother is a black man so the ignorance swirling around these deaths aren’t about theories for me, they have so much to do with my life and the men I love the most.
Civil disobedience and freedom of speech against social injustice were critical pieces of the civil rights movement, a movement that has led us back an America where change is needed.
As a poet, I knew I wanted to pen my observations and feelings despite the difficulty I had in doing so. That’s when I made an open call to my Facebook friends to join me in a poetic protest. I had no idea who would respond, I just felt obligated to create a space for others to think, feel and write; I welcomed anyone to mourn, grieve and purge themselves through words. The response was so beautiful and overwhelming. It took me so long to edit the responses into the poem below partly because I was in awe of the thoughtfulness each person gave this project. Thank you ALL who participated, each of you are my muse. Thank you for giving of yourself and giving of your time. May you continue to speak and write and may you continue to dream of a better tomorrow. Each of you vary in age, gender and race which is why this poetic protest is so beautiful, it is a reflection of the kaleidoscopic America we’ve all pledged allegiance to.
Please share, and share, and share this link! The world deserves to hear us.
We are a discrimiNation
Under the whip
Grew an industry, the new empire
Tobacco the cash crop, but no cash
Shared by sharecroppers.
Corporate persons’ interest
Protected by beat coppers –
Ironic we kill black men for stealing—
Excuse me sir, I believe those were already paid for
When you rode the non-existent coattails
Of our slave beholden brethren
For surely you can see we stole their coats,
Their rights, their boots
The boots you now ask them to pull themselves up by
Forgetting the forceful boost we once received
And still benefit from
Those straps never arrived for them
Placed on back order until the laces got twisted
Into ropes suspending strange fruits from Southern trees
What does it mean?
The fourth of July
“My country tis of thee
Dry land of inequity
Of thee I scream
Land where my brothers die
Land where black mothers cry
Praying from every graveside
Let freedom ring!”
Mislabel black as thy enemy
Are we free to live?
Old stories fall away
History being made by all of us now.
Can you feel it? Can you feel this change in the air?
I know you do. Some of you are lashing out,
Some of you are finding your voice, some of you
are stepping back, some of you are stepping up.
Change is scary, uncomfortable. You are part of this
Your actions, too.
No matter how much you may not want to be part of this
We want a new normal.
That’s the murmur of the mothers talking
low at the table nearby,
the shock of the big nothing that happened
after Eric Garner’s death,
this is nothing new to them, it’s a common tragedy.
it’s a paragraph in an afternoon talk
they watch their sons play with the castle
on the carpeted library’s floor.
Where do we go from here?
“We the people” demand true freedom and equality.
Streets, bridges, and highway fills
city to city ’til we reach Capitol Hill
No, we are not where we should be
but we will get there.
Hold on, we will get there.
written by: Joshua Fisher, Shonrael Lanier, Lance Errol Moo, Da’trelle Snell, Jennifer Jones, Susan Clarkson Moorehead, Jessica Martinez and Erika K. Stanley