Poets Corner: Crime to be Black

24th Jul 2020
Poets Corner: Crime to be Black

t’s not just about
Innocent, unarmed Oscar Grant
Torn from his 4 year old daughter
By a bullet to his back by a police officer

It’s not just about Eric Garner
Violently arrested,
Then choked to death
Or Breonna Taylor,
Shot 8 times
By officers who stormed her home
As she slept

Or George Floyd suffocating to death,
An officer’s knee jammed into his neck

Or Sean Reed, Ariane McCree, Terrance Franklin, Miles Hall, Steven Demarco Taylor,
Or the hundreds of blacks killed by police every year

IT’S FAR MORE INSIDIOUS THAN THAT

It’s about a system of black oppression
That replaces slavery
With mass incarceration
How many generations grow up, fully aware,
Charges of drug crime
Are enough to lock you up for life,
If you aren’t killed by the police
Before you do your time??

When 1 in 3 black Americans can expect to do jail-time,
And private companies and vendors
Profit from prison contracts and free labour,

When America’s poorest communities
Lose their bread-winners and carers
To decades in prison,

When black freedoms, dignity and lives
Are denied
By arbitrary arrests,
Mandatory minimums,
Charges sometimes without recourse
To bail, parole,
Trial or even evidence,

When ‘law and order’ does not protect
The poorest and oppressed

And instead,
Brands them felons,
Locks and cages them
Or shoots them dead,

How do any of us sleep???

Fatema Valji | @fatemavaljipoetry

Fatema Valji’s collection of poems, ‘Who am I? A Collection of Reflective Poems’ is published by Sun Behind the Cloud Publications

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