Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poems that Resist Police Brutality & Demand Racial Justice - Post #15

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 offered our blog as a Virtual Open Mic, open to all who responded 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.


Amber Alert (in the wake of the missing of Relisha Rudd- knowing she isn’t the only one - taken in March 2014 from the DC general shelter)
by Liliana Hernandez

Amber alert warnings on the highway
When a rich white girl has gone missing
But where are the signs for the poor black girl from foster care
That has run away from her twelfth placement

Where is the search party for the girl
Who was taken by her boyfriend, who became her pimp,
and now she was moved to another state,
to sell her body, with nothing in return
and no one is looking for her.

Where is the search party for the boy
Who left prison after completing his time
And walks aimlessly in his old neighborhood
With nowhere to go
Except back to the life that took him
So far away 

Where is the search party for the young transgender woman
Who had to flee her home
After being outed
And is now living on the streets
Wondering where to go.

Where are the amber alerts for these youth
Who have no home to go to
Where are the people who care for them
Why are strangers not gathering by the hundreds
to search and find them a home?
         What will it take for there to amber alerts for young black children 
To call the public
To act on behalf of these youth who have no home to go
Who have been forced out of their homes
Who have been kicked out of their group homes
Who have been discharged from jail cells
and into the country roads of small towns
  where they are missing
Because no one is looking for them.

…where are the amber alerts for young black boys and girls?

When are we going to start looking for them and give these children a home.

Relisha Rudd we will never stop looking for you. 


The Blood on Blue
by Bob McNeil

You have the right to remain silent
Until cruel cops harass you to speak.
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down and
Used as evidence against you, but  
That excludes the Nazis in blue uniforms.

Some damn cops should be dropped.
Some damn cops should be dropped.

Nazis in blue hunt people of color.
Nazis in blue close doors to justice.
Nazis in blue say we resist arrest.
Nazis in blue think they’re thick whips
And we’re naked backs waiting for pain.
Their badges are for spilling our blood.
Their uniforms are for filling our graves.

Some damn cops should be dropped.
Some damn cops should be dropped.

Nazis in blue, we won’t disremember the names
Of those you wrongfully killed or maimed.
Nazis in blue, we won’t disremember the names
Of those you wrongfully killed or maimed.
Nazis in blue, we won’t disremember the names
Of those you wrongfully killed or maimed.

Some damn cops should be dropped.
Some damn cops should be dropped.

Look at the blood on blue,
Look at the blood on blue,
Look at the blood on blue.



by Joshua Weiner

I could feel his hand coming over my hand.
It’s not a haunting, it’s just something that happened,
like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan.

Did he have a gun?  It was still the unknown.
His power a paragon sharpened on a touchstone
to cut down a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan.

Let me see your hands!  He does a stutter step,
his hand in his waistband; I keep it on my right hip.
I just want a normal life, that’s it.  That’s it.

Night hangs upon the eyes that see the darker man.
Rain swells the tongue; speech is jargon.
Just like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan,
I felt like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan.


No Justice, No Peace of Mind
by S. Renee Mitchell

Hands up
Hands up
Don’t shoot

Behind these words of protest
Is the heart of a skinny, young boy
Scared of the boogeyman called Officer Friendly

Secrecy shrouds the circumstances
Questions of guilt are circumstantial
The full context yet unexplained
A time delay releasing the officer’s name
So, this child adds up what is left in the void of information
And comes up with this:

A white cop assassinated a recent high school graduate
For hours, his teenaged body lay in the neighborhood street
Til the festering agony of powerlessness that ran so deep
In this impoverished and mostly black community
Could not be soothed by hurled obscenities, candlelight vigils
Or agitated graffiti defacing government property

Those who were there
Say the outrage of normally peaceful protestors
Was stoked by an outsized, aggressive police presence
Which showed up in riot gear, with snarling dogs and rubber bullets
A dysfunctional daily existence stoked by persistent oppression
Ultimately gave way to a dysfunctional form of aggression

“You fu*@king animals,” one uniformed cop is quoted on camera
Was it any wonder nonviolence lost its reasoning with chaos that day
Embedded black nationalists simply refused to see its relevancy
And Mike Mike’s death – evidenced by pictures all the world would see
Offered agitators a reason to release evidence of their questionable morality
A perfect excuse for disaffected black youth to kick a bully when he’s down
Brazen looting became a twisted tribute to the troubled memory of Michael Brown

“A riot is the language of the unheard”
Noted Martin Luther King Jr. in his day
Here is the urban translation of modern-day juniors:
“Don’t nobody hear us until we do stuff like this”

Once again, a few blacks behaving badly
Represented all the blacks in that town who did not
And lazy looters made evening news
Instead of the questionable behavior of the cops
Cause on this soil, individuality is a given
Only if your pale skin classifies as white
When one face of color acts like a thug or an ingrate,
It is simply more convenient to assume they are all alike

“No justice, no peace “
“No justice, no peace”
This child’s voice joins adult shouts in the air
But the pavement’s chalk letters
‘I’m just another black boy ‘
Hint of a nagging and unsettling fear

A mother can tell sadness shrouds his bravado
Generations of grief pool behind his eyes
Cause almost every black child suspects that he is a target
And “justice for all” is an American lie

“I saw George Zimmerman get away with it
Now, it’s another case …”

With each step he takes into the night
He weaves in and out of the noise
Car horns blow
People shout
Whistles scream
But when morning comes, what will it all really mean?

“It’s crazy out here, though …”
“You didn’t have to shoot him down …”
“I am just 14 …”
“What if that was me?”

“Am I next, “ he wonders aloud
“Am I next?”


My Son
by Melissa Polite

My son know this -- you did not die in vain
I was calling for you to come home
You were my way of telling the world,
it’s time for a change

No, my son you did not die in vain
When you took those bullets and lost your
breath, I felt all of your pain
But my son it was never in vain

Your mother will cry for you
Your father will mourn for you
But your brother will get up and march
for what was done to you
So it was never in vain, the pain you were caused

The world will now know a change is needed
All from a bullet wound that wouldn’t stop bleeding
From a man that was forced to stop breathing
Yes, my son I call you home
But your death was not in vain
It was my way of showing the world it’s time for a change.


Why? Why not..
by  Kaitlynn E. Hennagan

“This movie can’t be dismissed,” - Danez Smith
at least not yet
The real question is why?
I wonder why this authors
takes such strong opinion
Is the author angry?
Is the author vain?
Or maybe…
Too many questions
I’m just so confused
Why not?
All these powerful hesitations
and quotations.
Why must the author have so much

I don’t know
Just please stop asking
It’s too overwhelming.
I can’t take it.

Is it because of anger,
Inspiration? So,
Why not?
I don’t know why:
You tell me.


Black Boy Be Great
by SaShay Butler

Black boy be great
Black boy be everything they tell you,
you ain’t.
Who is they anyway?
Lurking, watching, twatching.
Stop clocking him.
His time here isn’t measured
by tweets or every 28 hours his body remains whole.
while unwelcomed bullets tests his transparency.
he doesn’t have time to be
watching over his shoulder
to see nothingness.
Black and ostentatious;
You walk by me while I
model the emotions on my sleeve.
I can’t publicly grieve for the Black boy
society needs the black boy--
besides, who’s going to be the foundation?
The soil, the sun, the epitome of fire,
and everything that keeps us warm.
Who warns the Black Mother
that there are people who will take away
her global warming,
diminish his worth to a penny.
Her reason for working dead end jobs
to provide her son with a sufficient start..
Who will march… for all?
To see their sons rise in the morning.


I Hurt, I Bleed.
by Latoya Jeeter

I hurt,
Not for what bandwagons on the social-less media;
Not for what broadcasts on biased radio stations with presidented symbolism of contracted oppression
Not for  the guilty until proven innocent or the ones waiting in lock-up
But for the voice of screenshots and fragmented angels with low passion- aggression.

I bleed,
Not for the joys of deceit or the love of repetition
Not for the soundless patient with a 100% recovery rate
Not for the time that people say are so short but yet continue to edit to a shorter time that’s controlled
Sometimes, I don’t know what “I” *insert verb here* not for… or what for not…
But once the pen drops, the ink dries, the soul lifts up or that little black boy
            I hurt,  
            I bleed.


Let Us Be Free
by Anonymous

“This movie is about a neighborhood of royal folks-- children of slaves and immigrants and addicts and exiles” - Danez Smith
Thank you for making us think that our way of life did not matter
From the way we talk, to the way we dress, we tried our best
We straightened our hair, we learned how to effectively communicate
We got degrees all over our walls, and even changed our names
Only to disrespect ourselves and the proud legacy that came
before us.
So when judgment day came for you to say, “Depart from me,
I know you not.”
We looked into the mirror that said, “You will glitter like gold.” 


by Anonymous

A little boy in the corner of the room.
A different race, a different believe, a different point of view.
as the room gets smaller, everyone groups, that little boy is growing larger.
As that little room can not shrink any more that little different boy is not so little anymore.
Finally, being noticed by few.
But as those few grow, the not so little boys view is suddenly stopped by
one or two not wanting this boy’s opinion to spread.
We must let those views and opinions of the little different boy

be seen and heard. 



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