To a Black Child Learning About the Movement in Fifty Years


Photo Credit: Love and Struggle Photos

I want you to know
they despised us
above all else
watched us turning
every corner
even as we slept

for years
we implored them
screamed in agony
they told us

be patient
change takes time

they spoke to us like children
not the children of bloodfire
we were

they wielded indifference
like a sharpened rock
swore schooling
could pull us from depravity
then closed our schools

they chastised

stop lingering
on an ugly past

they tortured us
and called us

they will tell you

you cannot imagine
what it was like

they will tell you

things are much better now

they will talk of a progress
which does not exist
and which they had no part in

they will try to convince you
they have the same stake
in your life
as you do

I assure you
they do not

they will tell you

I was there

I want you to know
they were home
watching the news
detesting our rage

believing themselves
qualified critics
because of the Black women
who raised their kids
the Black children
in whose name
they made some donation

their monuments
do not honor us
they have not changed their minds

they built them
out of necessity
not because shame
compelled them

I want you to know
they are the impatient ones
worshiping the benchmarks
they can point to
and say

we’ve already done this

I want you to know
they did nothing

as you find the sad
strong bones in yourself
shared by all who suffer
listen to elders
but do not listen to them

you can watch the same newscasts
read the same documents
and you will know more

you have seeds
in your spine

in the sockets
of every joint

and from the places
where they killed us
or drove us into the ground
we are still watching

8 responses to “To a Black Child Learning About the Movement in Fifty Years

  1. Love this, especially how you’ve distilled your rage into poetry and located the experience of resistance in the body. Beautiful work.

  2. So, so, so impactful. “they were home watching the news.” Yes.

    Perhaps it was the word “bloodfire” that reminded me of James Baldwin and how I just watched (via YouTube) his debate with William F. Buckley and his willingness to give voice to anger through incisive words and an acidic delivery.

    Thanks for this.

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