fill in the bla(_)ks
In [insert year] a black [man/woman/child/person]
was killed by [police, white supremacists, racists]
and there was a [photo/video/phone call]
shared to social media or heard about on the [street/radio].
and people [excused/justified/demeaned]
[ ]’s death because [ ] once
[shoplifted/ran/smoked/talked back/had a broken taillight],
and they condemned the protests, called them
[riots/a waste of time/self-destructive],
praised [Trump/Bush/Nixon/Reagan/Jefferson], and told us
they don’t see color, that race had nothing to do with [situation].
Race had everything to do with [situation].
give up our “English”
learn their English
because it is better
if we ignorant
using a language
they could control
they were wrong
killed a boy
rioting burning spread
children won, went back
when the plan was scrapped
young people feel their power
i understand they throwing us a bone
black schools — inferior education
designed to make
we was things in this country before we was people and still arent
Ashley Elizabeth (she/her) is a writing consultant, teacher, and poet. Her works have appeared in SWWIM, Rigorous, and Zoetic Press, among others. Her chapbook, “you were supposed to be a friend,” is available with Nightingale & Sparrow. When Ashley isn’t serving as assistant editor at Sundress Publications or working as a member of the Estuary Collective, she habitually posts on Twitter and Instagram (@ae_thepoet). She lives in Baltimore with her partner.