black has every right to be angry

by Ashley Elizabeth
Untitled

 

fill in the bla(_)ks

In [insert year] a black [man/woman/child/person]
was killed by [police, white supremacists, racists]
for existing

and there was a [photo/video/phone call]
shared to social media or heard about on the [street/radio].
We wept,

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],
misquoted [MLK/X/Tutu/Tubman],

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].


ongoing

black schools
give up our                  “English”
learn their English
because it is better
if we    ignorant
using a language
they could control
they were wrong

police fire
killed a boy

children
arm themselves

police
kept shooting
hundreds         dead
thousands        injured

[    ]war
rioting burning       spread

children won, went back
when the plan was scrapped
i remember

young people feel                   their power
i understand they throwing us a bone
black schools — inferior education
designed to make
better slaves


we was things in this country before we was people and still arent

livestock
slave
field hand
alligator bait
nigger
cheap labor
runaway
target
test subject
cadaver
criminal
coon
jezebel
mandingo
thug
sacrificial lamb
Untitled

 

 

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.
Untitled

 

Endnote: the middle section of this poem is an erasure for one of the pages of the novel “Waiting for the Rain,” by Sheila Gordon.
Untitled