March for Racial Justice / March for Black Women 9/30/17. Credit: Susan Melkisethian.

Rise up

A poem

It’s time for us to rise up
and break the chains of racism
that have ruthlessly bound us
like chattel to this country

They say slavery is over
but why must we tell a child
to watch his tongue
and don’t move too fast

Or he may end up shot dead
His parents’ weeping black faces
illuminated by flickering candles
as they cry out their misery and rage

Or when black women are treated
like they are less than nothing 
not only by kin but by skin
who would violate their bodies

and batter their very souls
so they no longer know who 
or what they are supposed to be
in this world full of such evil

I wonder how much more blood 
must we shed before anyone
else notices we are dying
in this country that stole our lives

And set us adrift in a place 
that won’t honor our history
refuses to acknowledge our presence
and will never see us as human beings.