Reflections on Black Deaths



The Heritage of Slavery (1968), Mrs. Fannie Lou Hammer.

Personal reflections on the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the others whose name we know and do not.


I.

This love won’t keep us safe

In bodies they love to hate.

This love won’t keep us safe

In skin they love to taint.

This love won’t keep us safe

In the chains they kept us in.

This love won’t keep us safe

In a country built on our pain.

This love won’t keep us safe.

This love won’t keep us safe.

This love won’t keep us safe.

But maybe, this love will keep us sane.

Black love.





II.

“They know what they’ve done to us”

The american flag stands

Proudly

With white and blood stripes

Black blood

Struck

By white

Stripping us

Apart

Under the stars

Watching

Strikingly

As we tear

Apart

White.

Red.

White.

Red.

And we call this a symbol

Of a country

Built on freedom and liberty

But who’s free?

And whose liberty?

White.

Red.

White.

Red.

And we call these symbols

Of innocence and valour

But who’s innocent?

And whose valour?

So we burn it

To ashes

A symbol of sins and repentance

Yours and ours

And we kneel

A symbol of resistance.

Black.




III.

Survival.

What do you know of survival?

Do you know how to plant a seed

And water it into existence

Or how to light a city

At day

And at dusk

What do you know of survival ?

Do you know how to live a life sentenced

Freely

What do you know of survival?

Do you know how to love the life

Of a breathless man

How to bury him

Like a seed

And water him into a revolution

Do you know how to light a country

In protest

From day till

Dusk

What do you know of survival?

If all you’ve known is how to take a life


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