A Share of Writing: Black Lives Matter

By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.

There are too many sneetches on these beaches.

 

I wrote this back in 2015 on March 21.  Yes, I’m still busy, but I have something being cooked up right now.  In the meantime, here is a poem that I wrote a while back to channel a lot of my frustration, but also to serve as a warning to people of what was happening and of what could happen.  Sadly, as you can tell by this date and the events that have passed since then, some of what I already warn about in this poem eventually did occur.  So when you click this hyperlink and relive my pain, realize that this was one of the things floating in the background of my rage.

I actually did present this on a panel at my undergraduate college for an event that was created by a professor to speak on these issues– an event that occurred months after the student group that I led held an open house to discuss these issues at my behest.  I mention this to demonstrate how much foresight should be a strong theme for what you are about to read.  The title is both ironic, in the way that I knew even then that I did not stand with the BLM organization after interacting with and observing a proxy BLM organization spawn on my campus and begin to grow, and missional, as the core people who I wanted to reach most would be drawn in by the title in order to listen to the poem.  I did my best to pull from real experiences from real persons (in fact several are just that, even some of mine) to weave them into a single coherent story (just as real life behaves as a single complex thread) like Anansi the spider, to weave irony in truth like Coyote (hopefully you understand before getting eaten, hahaha).  But I also wanted to offer light into the errors of how each kind of person responds in order to challenge hearers for how they respond to these tragedies.

Once again, bon appetit, fam.  This poem is a lot more coherent than the previous one in this series, if I may call it that, a series.  Of course, this is also by design.

 

BLACK LIVES MATTER

There is blood on the streets, blood on the streets

Blood on the hands and these bleached white sheets

Three letters all consonants, all beginning with K

The blood splattered banner though a mask hides the name

It’s a century’s old game though the fabric’s not torn

You’d be surprised cos you know of how it’s been worn

But new uniform, this one belongs to a cop

Inherited legacy from the Klansmen, and his legacy won’t drop

His name is called Mark, and he closes his locker

Next to another white skinned man who is also a copper

But hold, pause, we must continue with Mark’s story

For the story of the other cop ends quite gory

Mark goes out for patrol, waves at the good ol’ boys

Cruises through the black streets brandishing his toys

Children pause, and parents draw them up, Mark’s loving the power

Gotta scare the blacks to keep them in check by the hour

Now up comes a sagging britches maggot, ironically named Charlie

He’s trying to get some change from his best friend named Haile

Another drug bust thinks Mark, these jiggers just won’t listen

He recalls his elder parents giving him useful wisdom

It’s black man’s nature to always live in a drag

His one true home is behind pavement, bars, and concrete slab

Mark pulls out the cuffs, Charlie breaks for a run

Mark was so ticked off he almost drew out his gun

Used his car to vehicle-check that son of a gun

Busted Charlie’s hip bad, now that boy’d think twice before he runs

Stomped his hand to the pavement so he’d never use a gun

Mark felt accomplished, another patrol of the street was done

 

But enter another part of the month’s cacophony,

A Black Lives Matter rally

Where women, men, young and old gathered

And where there conglomerated a lot of chatter

An emancipated, energized speaker arose and decried

The death of a recent black child who by copper violence had died

Caught about fifteen rounds where the cop swore he took two

The crowd roared and chanted, this story now familiar

For from shared experience they could remember something similar

Occurring in their own lives

Painted red were the furious faces of the brand new warriors

Swearing up and down not another would fall

To the badged oppressors

A young man who needs no name sat eagerly in front

He wore African garb and large beads

And trust me ’twas no front

He rose with every rise and cried out “Black Pride”

To hide the inner hurt that he felt inside

See, strong brother was a Yale student of law

And here is a small tale recounting what he saw

Found out a story of black folks being original

The first of mankind

And went to philosophy class singing a different note

In that hostile environment where might is right

And might here is intellectual and always sides with White

He declared with pride of the story from biology class

Of how black man was first mankind in the past

With stunned horror he watched as his classmates just laughed

For in that story the most SUPERIOR beings come last

Now he sat and was almost aghast

At black people rallying, recalling glory’s past

The black people once trampled will learn to rise again

And maybe even put their boot to the face of white man

The dirty bastards

 

But shift the scene, same rally different person

And this one surprisingly a slightly different person

For who would behold that among such a throng

Would sit Sally Ponytails, a white teenage blonde

She sat in anxious state amidst all of the chatter

Of strong proclamations of those gathered “Black Lives Matter!”

But Sally had something quite strange on her brain

Like scrubbing with Kleenex at an engine’s oil stain

She nearly gasped and panted from all of the strain

For if you knew then you’d know Sally’s dad had been slain

Her father, the second cop revisited, had stopped on usual rounds

Pausing to say hello to old neighbors, grandmothers, and dads

And came to the familiar road where he first encountered Juice

An ex-gang official who had called with her father a truce

Which left the nearby playpen safe for children to play in

And God help us, Juice and the cop actually became friends

But out comes Juice running, the cop was in dismay

Unawares he was to be a victim of revenge killing today

A black suburban crept alongside

Juice screaming at the cop car to the helpless man inside

Batta-batta-batta the shots rang out

And poor Sally’s dad never gave a shout

For the young child whose death was protested at the rally

Had been avenged by the vigilantes taking daddy away from Sally

Gripping tightly her jeans she struggled with the meaning

Her dad had always told her black people have feeling

They’ve been oppressed so long they start to lose hope

System forces them to scrap and scramble just to cope

You have to know Sally, not all black people on the news are bad,

They just need room to grow and shine from underneath—

But dad,

Thinks Sally, Where are you now?

She attended the rally for it’s what her dad would have done now

But his life ended at the hands of those he spoke for

So now what was this hurting white girl to hope for?

Where was the rally for his life?  As tears started to roll

Why are blacks so stupid? Thought her racist mind

The pain took its toll

 

“I see you there crying my people!” cried the speaker.

He paused and glanced down

“Young white girl, do you need a tissue?”

But Latriesha herself was too energized to cry

Her heart was still burdened with the latest soul to die

Her uncle murdered last year by a gangbanging crew

Her cousin last month blew away another who repped a bandana blue

Another arrested for violence that was domestic

And now this child dead, police violence was endemic!

She cried at her uncle’s funeral, and prayed for her cousins

Didn’t march or rally, she was well aware of such violence

And who wasn’t?!

But now this must stop

We all must know

The child-shooting white cop

Has got to go

Too long her family held down by poverty’s weight

Trying to carve out American pie on the rotted ghetto plate

Cops burst into her home last week looking for a man named Jarvis

Didn’t find him so they stormed out as they came,

Their very intrusion a cause for violence

Cried out Latriesha “Stop Violence Now!”

The way she chanted and stomped, you’d think her

At a powwow

 

But near the back sat an impressionable black child

His name Luke but he was a junior

So they called him “L”

He sat uneasy in his seat

It was a sight to behold

Young Luke looked as if he had lost control

He’d never experienced gang life or been victim of a cop patrol

But his story wasn’t one that hadn’t been told

Been the only black boy in his white hood growing up

His parents pretty successful so he was born during their come-up

Days spent alone outside after school

While he listened to sounds in his neighborhood,

White boys and girls in the swimming pools

He didn’t grow up with BET, you see, he wasn’t able

For the majority of his life he spent without cable

Got company when his cousins would visit and play

When on Sundays he went to church, that was a good day

Surrounded by brown faces, all of different shades

young and old here he could get away

For when he tried to play with the kids outside it often ended

With a cruel joke or a beating on his hide

Often he’d fight back and stand his ground

And protest,

But you can’t force kids to play,

And young kids know this best

His parents taught him to excel so he oft did

And found himself in advanced classes at school with the same white kids

Of course there he was black so he oft had to hide

But outside with other blacks he had no home, he was white

And so through the chatter of “Black Lives Matter”

He knew something to be missing, despite himself, he clamored

His life, he thought, has no color,

His skin is what’s black

If life does have a color it should claim the whole rack

Of ebonies, oranges, emeralds and hues

If life has a color, it must be white too

Such foolishness bound up in the heart of this child

But before reason could stop him he began to smile

With uplifted hands in new astonishing praise he cried

“All Lives Matter” with both hands raised

The sound reached those around and they let him know gladly

He could go elsewhere with that, this was not the rally

 

But I must end the story, my time almost done

So many more stories to tell of tales heard and yet begun

Call me Anansi as I spin this web

Or grave Coyote as you hear the stories’ sound.

But Luke’s story is funny I say

For after the rally his foolish mind’s folly became his own personal Gospel

He travelled hurriedly in a race from place to place

Even crying “Awaken my brothers and sisters, there is no such thing

As —-”

Such folly,

but the stories

I leave bare for you to know

The tales that I recount are

Only from what I know

From those told and seen,

Like Anansi the Spider so ends

My account of a rally for the cause

Black Lives Matter

 

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