a poem: no one wants to be the white moderate

but so many today are

disappointed with their complacency,

Martin Luther King, Jr described

the white moderate as one of

goodwill yet a shallow understanding,

devoted to order over justice,

so uncomfortable with direct action,

they’d rather ask for Black folks

to wait for a more convenient season.

as if one should ever set

the timetable

for another‘s


no one wants to be the white savior,

but John Brown was one.

unlike most other white saviors,

he was willing to escalate in 1859

with urgency and direct action

deemed too extreme by

white moderates comprised of

abolitionist and slave owner alike.

Brown took justifiable direct action

to the extent we too claim we would

if we were alive in those days.

we’d pull out all the stops,

to free our friends’ ancestors.

but is a John Brown who we’d be

as a means to end chattel slavery?

no one wants to be the white moderate.

it’s easy to say we’d fight injustices

if we lived in that time. a time where

egregious injustices exist, so

in theory there should be

a myriad of John Browns

and very few white moderates.

yet we live in this time,

where injustices exist,

and no manifestations do i see

of John Brown’s progeny.

only white moderates lacking urgency.

if only white moderates could see how

they’ll be remembered in history.

to know is to be complicit

in a widespread white complacency,

that continues to stand

on the sidelines of history,

as an unaffected spectator,

watching freedom fighters jailed

watching others fight a dictator,

watching racists hailed

waiting for and expecting

someone else to struggle

waiting for a more convenient season in 1869.

waiting for a more convenient season in 1963.

waiting for a more convenient season in 2018.

159 years later,

55 years later,


the white moderate still

waits comfortably while

the uncomfortable wonder skeptically

if a convenient season will ever come.

Martin Luther King, Jr was right:

the white moderate is

the great stumbling block

to Black liberation.

both white moderates and white saviors,

will always have problematic behaviors.

but i’d rather hang for Brown’s raid,

than witness the white moderate

leave their conscience