I'm teaching summer school and (per the above poem "Middelschmerz") we've been looking at issues of police brutality and race. We started out by reading some poems from a poetry workshop that took place in Baltimore (poems by Afiya Ervin, Brandi Randolph and Kyemah Clark found at www.blackwordsmatter.org). We analyzed those and then the kids wrote their own poems, which were in turn peer reviewed and revised.
Because it's summer school we have limited technology available; I put my email address on the board and implored the kids to share with me if they felt so moved so that I could share them here, explaining how compartmentalized we all get as adults and how fortunate I feel to be exposed to their multiple perspectives every day. There are many more beautiful poems that didn't make it into my inbox, but what I did recieve is below. It's worth noting that, because of the rich diversity of the environment I'm in, there is a diversity of ability where the English language is concerned. As you read, you'll see what I mean, and obivously these are students, not professional poets. Even so, the sentiment is moving and beautiful and deserves our gaze:
I just don't understand..
Is it because our skin color is labelled as the same color of an officers gun that we are forced to interact?
Or are you upset that we are children of the sun, and our melanin bursts, sparkles, and pops until the sun finally sets
My skin is a warm color, brown sugar, radiance, pure divine!
You wanted to be an enemy, your skin white like snow, the heat from my skin, voice and presence will melt you quicker than a gun could ever shoot on your best day, because I am warmth! you hate my kind
Maybe it's because my lips are projected for BIGGER, POWERFUL words, that your ears ache when heard
Hit me, beat me, torture me, I'll still yell the truth with a broken jaw, with words of slurs!
Don't get my anger mistaken for racism, I believe in equality, why can't you?
This will stop, we will make SURE of it, you can't turn every "black" face, blue
And lastly, you should know there are more of us being born stronger, every time you kill one, another warrior is coming through!
Calling war now that we're prepared, is the last thing you should do.
The love we've worked so hard for is gone
the love we protested and boycotted for
for a brief moment the worlds of black
and white were in almost perfect harmony
as we once thought it would be
what is the meaning of these actions
why must you treat us this way
why must you resort to these methods
when we've done nothing to provoke you
my brothers and sisters do not feel safe
they are the deer chased by the hunter because
of who we are sometimes we lie in bed and
wonder will I still be alive in 24 hours.
these acts of violence you say we committed
these unspeakable acts from those who say
they're here to protect us yet we hide from you
the crime is you drawing your weapon not my race
you thought because i'm black i've done something
all i did was be my black Self
THESE ARE OUR VOICES
I'm tired of hearing about shooting and killings
From the ones who serve and protect
It hurts to know that my brother has to watch his back
While walking down the street
He's not a threat
My people are dropping left and right like flies
Open season on African Americans is what my country knows
My heart cries just knowing that this is justified
My prayers are angels being sent to the victims families
The families that's still asking why
A question that everyone wants to know
Still slave under the apartment "hope"
I hopeful the world is not gonna end like this, it's going to change one day. I hope one day we have the social justice accept our folder open. I hope one day the oil and water gonna change to like salt and water.
I wish black live a long like Mississippi River, not short like deer in the jungle.
The moon played hide and seek with the clouds. What happen if you walk on the street at dark night, and you don't have the flash light and the sometimes lighting for you, but sometimes goes behind the clouds. The police like a moon.
Oreo and milk are two very different things, twisted linked dunked mission accomplishments. Oreos under the milk until the bubbles stop. Nowadays they wouldn't be not surprise if they on the news for murder.
It was way before our time so we would never understand, they use to walk around freely with crowns placed upon their heads they had each other they shared a kingdom with one another. No enemies they all wer Brothers.
they there came a time when the Aliens came to the Kingdom in boats tied them up with ropes that's the day we became restricted from our freedom but they don't know, they like is this a joke can you come untie this rope the Aliens are taking souls and all the kings are being dethroned
they sailed ship on a a boat and made the Kings into lost souls, so generations after that there never was an aftermath, so if we give you present time you would see it's in our nature on how we act. there was a Black man he was a college graduate with a family on top of that he was on his way home from work and being attacked and just because he was Black all he heard was put your hands behind your Back. Chained Kings.