HANDS UP

By Seema Jilani



Hands up? NO, man.
Hands down, this nation is sick, sick as it ever was. Diseased. Ill.
With Ill Will. And Unwilling to see itself for what it is.
Ill in the cells of its being, dwelling in its ignorance,
Ill with no pill to get better, no will to even acknowledge its cancer.
As we watch this ugliness metastasize through our nation,
We watch them smudge out our stories,
and histories and Her-Stories, and My Stories,
and Queer-stories, Fear-Stories, and yes, Your Stories too,
More and more, with each “Hands up!”

Hands down, this is the worst I’ve ever seen it.
Hands down. Because that is how you shake someone’s hand,
Hands down because that is how you hold babies,
Hands down, because that is how you apologize, not with maybies, and excuses,
but with sincere eyes, lookin’ me straight in the face,
facin’ me, me and my trembling truth.
Not sizin’ me up and down while I cry,
while you sleazily check me out, and say, “Heey Baaaaby.”
Hands down because that is how you honor our bruised hearts
that whimper as you brew your lies to erase the sins your father’s father’s father.

Purple, stiff bodies on the pavement, Left for vultures flying overhead,
In our heads, in our beds, to shred our self-respect,
Well, I am fed. Up.
Used and abused bodies frying in the street so frivolously,
framing this conflict so miserably.

Hands down is how she stroked her lover’s jawline, before he was choked,
Hands down, workin’ at the factory so his kids could get a Christmas tree,
Hands that drove tanks in the deserts of Afghanistan fighting
rich, white men’s wars in countries where you don’t even know where they are.

Finder’s Keepers.
Just a stani-stan. Laughistan. Cryistan. Get drunk and Die-istan.
Photograph it and win your Pulitzer Prize-istan.
Now you can build that sunroom you always wanted.

Hands down is how we find ‘em hanging from the trees….
Maggots feast on their marrow, bees buzzing at their brains.
Their neck loopty loopty looped onto a hangin’ branch.
That is some strange fruit.
Twisted collar slung to the side, swollen jugular veins
lumped, bulging eyes, lookin’ to God for some mercy,
whispering a last prayer. Lord Almighty.

The only “hands up” there were the white crowds, picnicking,
sneering, pointing up at the circus freak with his frozen face,
amused as his lifeless body sway, sway, swaying in the slow Louisiana breeze,
Oh, with such ease.

Believe me when I say, his hands were down, Massa.
Down down, till he drown in a pool of his own blood,
flooding into his lungs, asphyxiating in the shadows of indignity,
dangling from the rungs of society, dangling from a Magnolia tree.
Ain’t nothin’ like the scent of Southern Jasmine with a lil’ hint of corpse, sweetheart.

You know what I was taught at home? “Hands up, Head down.”
Keep your head down.
Don’t make too much of a spectacle, you don’t want nobody to mess with you,
Make sure nobody can take you away for being disrespectable,
Just be a fine specimen, an honorable citizen.
Because, baby, you brown. There ain’t no second chances.
There ain’t now second time around.

Don’t wanna be one them “angry brown women.” Now do I?
You know, because whatever we do, we ain’t supposed to get angry.
Rape us, derail us, demean us, defile us, delight in my dehumanization,
desensitize them to my pain, delude us into thinking change is coming.
Deduct me from your polling station, deconstruct my dignity.
Depict us as evil, defeat my soul, demoralize me, deflect your guilt onto me.
Defend your crimes against humanity and delete us from this nation’s memory.
Denigrate our history, dismiss us,
deprive us of opportunity, defeat us in our struggle, demonize me.
Make us delirious in our own identity.
But no. I’m not supposed to get angry.
Not even when the heel of his boot is on my neck, or when he hisses in my ear.
Because God forbid a brown woman get angry.

Because then you playin’ a “race card.” Right?
A what? Is this a card game to you?
Apparently, winner takes all in this Russian roulette.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t bet, not on human lives.

And since when is angry bad?
Martin Luther was angry. Mandela was angry. Medgar was angry. Malcolm was angry. Rosa Parks was angry.
Oh, I’m sorry. Let me speak your language.
Bob Dylan was angry. Joni Mitchell was angry. Joan Baez was angry.
Is that better now?

Listen here all you Bourgeoisie. Ima tell you something for free.
Ima tell you our history. Of suppression, repression, oppression, depression of our expression,
“Black history?”
You brighten it up and whiten it up.
And all our little school children hear all about
Is sit-ins and a clean hippie-dippie movements and We Shall Overcome.
No sir. No sir. It was the dirtiest, scariest, lonliest and most radical fight out there.
We get the sterile Dr. King in our classrooms,
devoid of the rage, that rusty, sunburned deep fire, fighting for extreme fierce ideas:
Justice, Truth, Love. Equality.
Extinguished…. White-washed with a re-write of history.
He wasn’t no hippie. No sirry. They called him a Commie.

Well, Merry Fuckin’ Christmas.
It’s a bloody red one this year, ain’t it?
It’s fucking Crimson, laden with the transgressions of our government and woven with the blood of my tribe.
Crimson as the blood that soaks the sheet of the migrant woman raped at the border.
Crimson as the blood coughed up by the men forcfed at Gitmo,
Crimson was the color of the anal tear and they shoved hummus up an innocent man’s ass and told him they’d rape his mamma.

Is this what you mean by putting the Christ back in Christmas?
Mas de Cristo.

War on Christmas? Hell yeah, there’s a war on Christmas –
There’s a war on everything Christ stood for,
And you motherfuckers are the ones wagin’ it.
War on poor, war on weak, war on blacks — that one’s pretty fuckin’ bleak.
War on the meek, war on the peacemakers,
What a mindfuck, this war on kindness on humanity and dignity,
With people like Hannity, you can call it a war on sanity too.
Sanity, Santa Claus, Insanity, how you like to sanitize me.
Commodify me, Exotify me.

No, no, but you see, Christ was white, French even,
with one of those accents you people think is sophisticated but is really just pretentious,
pompous, ostentatious.
He, with his blonde hair and his snowy skin.
Bull. Shit.
It doesn’t snow in Palestine, you swine.
As y’all say, he was an Aaaay-Rab.
Bethlehem, Palestine. Nazareth, Palestine. Jerusalem, Palestine. Shalom, Salaam, yo.
Not yours, not mine. But intertwined with the frenzied chaos of hate crimes.

Nothing is fine. Nothing.
And I don’t give a fuck how good the wine from the Golan tastes.
Because Cruelty is Bitter.

Don’t shoot? No shit don’t shoot!
I’m a threat? Me?
You with your big war guns and machines and me with my… what? My brown skin.
Brown. Brown. Brown like chocolate.
Rich like espresso.
Call me mocha, Mr. Jim Crow.
I been around you know. I been around.
Brown like fertile, lush soil,
brown like the oil that gushes out of a spout into the Gulf of Mexico,
brown like the oil our sons and daughters gave their lives for,
brown like that tan you want with your copyright infringement of my magnificence.

Brown like warmth and honey, Velvety, the way it goes down your throat,
Brown like that congealed blood that spurts out of a body in the street or
the shit that stains your white sheets
You so scared. Heh. I’m finding it kinda funny.
Every morning you wake up scared, thinkin’ ‘bout how I’m gonna murder you.
Every morning I wake up beautiful, free, thinkin’ ‘bout makin’ steamy love,
about my autonomy, and avoiding the fuck outta you.
So I can still wake up tomorrow and still be dreamin’ big.
I’m Dreamin, dreamer, Drumbeat, Drummer to my own beat, nobody drums for me.
I drum, But I crumble too. It’s hard. I mumble words of
“Yes, sir. Why thank you, sir.
Thank you for pummeling my body with bullets and making me a fountain of blood.
Thank you for only feeling me up on my stop and frisk, and not raping me. Bless your heart, sir.”
In my best white wanna be Southern accent I muster up for you.

Sure you can protest, just do it by our rules.
Man…. Everything up till now been by your rules, brother,
And it ain’t workin’ out too well for me.
So, yes, let us interrupt your traffic, and your shopping
and the motherfucking malls, and invade your walls of injustices,
and have calls for armistices.
Tis’ the season, right?
Open huntin’ season on people like me.
Call me by my name, fool. What’s my name? What’s my name?
X
X marks the spot
In the air with millions of brown fists.
Don’t worry, y’all. It’s good target practice.