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
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