Awake

I heard somebody say,

that the world has turned upside down.

I thought, “No, the world is flipping back right-side up.”

Which hope for I cannot clearly say

But I feel it in

the people in the streets,

thousands marching

voices raised,

signs flashing on every TV…

This sounds better than the way the world was.

Things that you put in water that flip back up

Right themselves and float face up – I mean like that —

Only the flip coming from many forces

Nobody now is too busy to pay attention

To the powerful media

from personal phone shots

to reporters in the streets —

Well-organized youth gatherings

We have time to feel a sensibility that

Turns us right side up, even if momentarily.

I feel it in me

A return to caring about doing justice

And loving mercy

My young roots put down in protest

Against the Military Industrial Establishment

The masters of war, as Dylan called them.

My soul is coming up for air.

People dying, the poor the most tragic

Blacks hurt disproportionately by the pandemic

Reveals – for anyone who wants to see — much of what is broken

Lifts the curtain on fat cats in D.C. and on Wall Street

Who mostly care about profit, wealth — they’re insulated

We white people live on prosperity,

We have time to see.

Video of a black man murdered

Slowly, second by second, into minutes

Killed over a 20-dollar bill

Horror turns us to what we’ve ignored

The injustices to black people

Racism that has not been removed

Forgetting the violence

of the fight for civil rights,

the martyrs.

Racism not removed

Not since slaying indigenous peoples,

From the first year in Haiti,

To decades that decimated

Civilizations and tribal nations.

Conquerors, colonialists,

then statesmen and bosses kept their foot

on the neck of generations

Of black people.

The emancipation

Didn’t give blacks citizenship.

Could not vote,

could not own land,

could not learn to read,

Could not, could not

And what blacks produce and accomplished

was often stolen.

Because the patriarchal good old boys,

the land owners, the businessmen,

the whites’ word was against the colored.

The slave blocks were gone

But the oppression lives on.

Racism hurts the man then lives on

In his epigenetic code to harm the health of the children

And even their children

If he is not murdered by a policeman.

Four hundred years.

Plus, a couple if you count back to Columbus.

America was a state, but laws only worked for white males.

We were not a nation because of the fiction that

Only birthrights of certain Europeans counted.

Everyone else was annihilated, forced onto reservations

or gave their backs to the fields and sweat shops.

My white Scottish folk so poor they walked without shoes

for land the U.S. Government promised.

When they got to Illinois, they got nothing so they walked back to Kentucky.

Kids, our history books lied to us. 

We have not been the land of the free

Or the home of the brave. 

The white narrative didn’t mention the killings

The massacres of black people in the USA

This moment of public spectacle –America

with the world watching our cities on fire —

This might be the first time we’ve turned

Flipping back up for air.  Facing it.

Now in this pause

Ask how you will create relief

Demand justice due to black people

Who suffer generational trauma

From racism – at American hands,

not only the hands of police.

Act from people over property. 

Human beings never are things.

Don’t wait for the entrenched and powerful

To renounce greed. This isn’t about

The stupid stock market –

It’s about a life worth living

Make good on the Constitution promise

Now.

Now to fully awake

Now to turn

Now the will to go forward.

Not back to drowning inequality.

Not back to suffocating racism.

Published by River Brown

Grant Writer with the San José Area Writing Project, B.A. Serigraphy, San José State University, M.A. Ed, Teaching & Learning, National Hispanic University, San Jose, Ca, Retired Intervention Specialist.

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