Saturday, January 24, 2015

Poems that Resist Police Brutality & Demand Racial Justice - Post #14

We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest -  Poems that Resist Police Brutality & Demand Racial Justice

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son -- we who believe in freedom cannot rest.

                    - Ella Baker

Even as our hearts break in rage and anguish over the murder of Black and brown people throughout the land by police who are not held accountable, here at Split This Rock we are heartened by the powerful actions in the streets and the visionary leadership of mostly young people of color in this growing movement for justice.

We are also moved by the poets, who continue to speak out, and especially by BlackPoetsSpeakOut.

In solidarity, Split This Rock offers our blog as a Virtual Open Mic, open to all who respond to our call for Poems that Resist Police Brutality and Demand Racial Justice. The poems below were submitted in response to that call. 
All of the submitted poems in this and previous posts were delivered to the Department of Justice on January 23, 2015 and the call for submissions is now closed. To see photos of the reading, demonstration and delivery of the poems, visit Split This Rock's Flickr account.

Please note poems with complex formatting have been posted as jpegs, as this blog has a limited capacity for properly displaying these poems. We apologize if these poems are not accessible to you.

For more information or questions, feel free to email us at

If you are moved by any of the poems below, please contact the Department of Justice and your local representatives to demand for police accountability. Visit Ferguson Action Demands for more information.


Crooked cops
by Liliana Hernandez

              All you hear 
is the fear
of terrorism
yet we have cronyism
paying crooked cops
beating and dropping
our brothers to the ground
treating them worse than hounds
the bodies were found
in a dark corner.
at the funeral the mourners
were young and old
mothers and neighbors
screaming and crying
not another brother.

              What’s it gonna take
to get the guns off the street and
criminal cops off the beat
make them face the heat
for another life lost.

              Wake up America
racism can’t be tolerated
it needs to be obliterated
we need to stand up and fight
with all our might
for no more harassment
illegal searches
excessive force
and murder.
the police must adhere to the law
human rights, basic dignity
and privacy
to one’s body and house.
How would true heroes act?
not shooting an innocent man with his arms behind his back.

Until the world stops
seeing brothers as criminals
until they start seeing the positive contributions
their expectations of the prison industrial complex
incinerates to ash
and we all start making some cash
will there be an end to racism. 


There's a Mike Brown in every town (AKA the real criminals have badges and guns)
by Shahid Buttar

From Ferguson to Jerusalem 
And WASHington HOUston we have a problem
For housing, education not enough funds
Cause we pay the real criminals with badges and guns

There's a Mike Brown in every town
Don't try to tell me that America was found
We've been slaughtering innocents from the very beginning

America casts big stones while sinning
Spitting half ass facts: ...
"All men are equal," but blacks
Declared three fifths when whites wrote the constitution 
and ever since then even it we keep abusin

Mass confusion on our own stated principles
Leaves the empire seeming invincible
Murder with impunity if shot by a cop 
while prosecutors persecute the block nonstop


Little Africa                    
by James “Mr. Speaker” Sears

Let me take you back in time and provide you with some knowledge.
I will tell you about a place you will not hear about while attending college.

The time was 1870 to 1921 for your historical notation, the north side of Tulsa,        
Oklahoma is the actual recorded location.

North Tulsa was called, “Little Africa,” as this name marked praise. 
The most affluent black community in America, the witnesses were amazed.  

Jim Crow laws created all-black communities, we cannot deny it, 
and right down racial lines, was how the United States was divided.

Tulsa Oklahoma was separated by the Arkansas River but not equal by any tale. The  
white side was not nearly as prosperous while the black community completely excelled.

Little Africa contained black doctors, politicians, oil barons, and many PHD’s,   
all black businesses, farmers, schools and many black attorneys.

Black owned restaurants, grocery stores, libraries, movie theaters, and places to sleep,          
so many prospering businesses that Greenwood Avenue was called Black Wall Street.

Yes, Black Wall Street because that is just how much money flowed.                                
I am not making this up, it is researched, and this is the truth history holds.  
Nepotism kept the money circulating within this community even for loans. 
Everyone purchased from their neighbor which caused the money to come back home.  

Brotherly love and altruism were practiced while crime was very low.                            
Morals were taught to all and children actually did what they were told. 
Neighbors volunteered to help other neighbors in times of trouble,  
and city families normally had five children while farming families had about double.
White coal miners came north Tulsa to work 72 hour long shifts as well.        
So, they too helped the pockets of these black business to swell.  
In the 1800’s, Little Africa had its own transportation system to assist them all.
Blacks kept to themselves and took care of each other so no citizen would fall. 

From Greenwood Avenue to Archer and Pine streets life was prosperous and grand,         
and if you take the first letters of those street G.A.P., you will see that is where they got the name for the GAP Band. 

By 1921 there were over 100 black millionaires, six even owned airplanes. 
Black Wall Street was thriving and looking for more financial gains.    

On the south side many whites lived below the poverty line,   
and white service men returning from World War I, also fell on hard times. 
“So, what happened to Little Africa?” one might say,                                                       
well, the klu klux klan decided they were going to take all that prosperity away.

On the first of June 1921, envy, greed, and jealous took control,                            
and a Black Holocaust in America was about to unfold. 
This race riot was one of the most violent ever carried out on American people. 
It was the largest massacre of non-military Americans in history with no recorded equal. 

Within hours, scores of black owned business destroyed on the north side of town.
3,000 men, women and children dead, and hundreds could not be found.   
Over 600 buildings destroyed, looted, and no longer around.                                           
Hundreds of homes lit up the skies as they burned right to the ground.
Meanwhile, good white Christian families just watched and stood around,           
witnesses to the kkk killing anyone who’s skin color was brown.                 
Little Africa was unlawfully lynched as this massacre went for 72 hours & from yard to yard,
until the white sheriff sent his black deputy to call up the State’s National Guard.      

The National Guard came to prevent the loss of more innocent lives because death is what they saw, and the first order of business was to establish and enforce Martial Law.                 

They stopped the killings, aerial bombings, disarmed & sent the klan home, while doing their jobs.  They failed to save hundreds business, dozens of grocery stores, churches, restaurants, hundreds of homes and farms, 2 movie theaters, banks, schools, pawn shops, jewelry stores, and even a hospital laid in the wake of that hateful & angry mob.

Restitutions, never happened, insurance claims-dishonored and black voices were silenced.  
Mass graves around the city hid this act of complete and senseless violence.                            

Impacts, today African Americans have little nepotism and we have lost most of our financial power.  We seldom support each other & our money leaves the community within about 
couple of hours. 

Consider this your history lesson for today & do not underestimate your economic might,
because if you do not honor and protect what you have, it could be gone over night.  


Text to Resurrect Revolution
by Bob McNeil

Countee Cullen
and I are of this consensus:
Prejudice drafts psychopaths. 
Their warpaths 
transfix our people to many a crucifix. 
There resides the reason why
my protest must never relax
from typing its attacks.

Addressed to your psyche, 
my compositions are microphones for
Emmett Till, Michael Griffith, 
Yusef Hawkins, Amadou Diallo, 
Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham,
Trayvon Martin, Darius Simmons,
Jordan Davis and Renisha McBride.

Addressed to your psyche, 
you can hear the murdered entreat:
“Don’t allow another name to join
a homicide report sheet. 
Don’t allow another name to join
a homicide report sheet.”

Addressed to your psyche, 
the compositions 
I’ve written are parts of a bulletin,
the passages transmit 
to our terra firma’s retina.

Addressed to your psyche,
my protest wants life
to evict the combustive
and discriminative. 
If armed with you,
Lawfulness will live.


Stepping Up, Signing Up
by S. Renee Mitchell

she asks the question
how do you feel


excavated words emerge
first, in ones and twos
then in families of related emotion

...i feel really upset...
...i feel really frustrated...
...i do not feel safe...
...i. am. scared...

soon, rivers of syllables escape
from youthful queer mouths 
whose honesty is often forced
to deny its truth
its jagged edges tumble
unobstructed and raw
seething with rage

...i don't trust the police...
...i don't give a damn about the police…
...where is the serving ….
...where is the protecting….

once safe space
flings opens its forgiving arms
souls conditioned to remain invisible
can no longer bear
the burden of silence

...if i stay quiet, i betray me...

sequestered tempers
unshackle their chains
and find an amen chorus
greeting its release

...just because you mean well
doesn't mean you do better
and it is not my job to teach you...

certainly  definitely  unfortunately
this angst is not new or evening news's happened so many times before...
...why does this keep happening…
...this just can't happen for no reason...

cries of justice denied is in the blood
that surges through our darkened limbs
generational grief is rancid, familiar, yawning
even the unborn smell our ancient worry

...somewhere deep in us, there's this fear
that what happened over there could happen here….

and so this despair woven so tightly with animosity
that you couldn't tell which one is actually leading the tango
fuels our need to reach beyond misgivings
to call and respond to our yearning for healing
to recognize our salvation lies within ourselves

...we are stronger together...
...we need to help each other get through this…
...people are stepping up and signing up
and saying this is bullsh*t...

heads nod in silent rhythm
knowing even without words
that we each are interpreting our collective pain
and translating that energy into hope's not about being acceptable to other people
it's about holding our own space...

yes, holding our own space
holding each other
holding on
til our change has come


Stop the Hate
by August Martin (title by Stephanie Hydal)

Looking at one another
With preconceived notions
Asking themselves if all this bother
Is really worth going thru the motions

Looking at one another
With fear in their eyes
Wondering if the beating heart
Is causing the blood to feel like ice

Looking at one another
Just not knowing
But maybe seeing a brother
Will keep the hate from flowing


The Reality of Unbridled Hunger
by Michelle L. Anderson

He walks
though the mud
the corridor
of her heart.
Wiping his dirty feet
As he walks
Down the long hall
Towards a kitchen
Seeking satisfaction
His appetite.
One is
not enough
maybe three
Don't know.
He just knows
he needs
to be fed.
The lust
Is great
Not as
As before.
Where is
His safety net
His backbone
Dependable woman
Filled with
Always willing
His hunger
His needs.
Not realizing
She was the mat
In the corridor
That felt
his muddy shoes
As he walked
On her
Down the long hall
the kitchen
The admiration
Many women
That are needed
Feed his insatiable
He turns
He left
His tracks.
dirty mat
That did
So much
Is gone.

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