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‘Not everyone rests in peace’

A collection of poems describing the black experience
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By TJ Sangare

Contributing Writer

“Write your own story, dramatic scene or collection of at least five poems inspired by the readings of the course.”

For my final project in African American Literature, we had the option to choose any direction that demonstrates our understanding of the texts, and synthesize the work of the semester. I chose the Creative Call and Response. I never thought I would say, “I enjoyed this final assignment,” but unlike most finals, the format of this project allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and explore poetry. For all but one of the poems, I explored different themes and writers from this semester and connected their work to ideas and events relevant today. In “Bullet or the Ballot,” I sought to convey some of the same feelings I share with Malcolm X and highlight the wickedness of the country we live in. In “Black Woman,” I outline some struggles and hardships Black womxn endure that are often ignored by society. “I’ve Known Rivers” is a cento poem with lines from various Langston Hughes’ poems; this piece regards the anxiety, PTSD, and generational trauma of being Black in America. Lastly, “Middle Passage,” the name speaks for itself.

Photo Courtesy of TJ Sangare

The Bullet or the Ballot / How many more times

The Bullet or the ballot

Some freedom or some bullshit

Telling me “pursue his dream”

Nah, I feel like it aint working

“Stay calm, and stay peaceful”

“Keep ya hands up, don’t resist”

“They wouldn’t shoot for no reason”

“I don’t care if he got 4 kids”

It’s crazy what I’ve seen.

I’m ready to explode.

George yelled “I can’t breath”

Trayvon only 17 years-old

They telling us to chill

Don’t riot, don’t loot

Trump’s exact words were,

“When they loot, we shoot”

They’re supposed to protect us 

They’re supposed to serve

But they killing us on the daily

And control us like a herd

I can’t imagine if it was my own mama

Got her child stolen, because they black

8:46 with his knee on his neck

How fucked up is that?

Uncle Sam is the problem

Uncle Sam is the criminal

Uncle Sam will look you in your eyes and unload 16 shots

And keep a straight face, as if he got nothing on his subliminal

Malcolm I need you

Why cant they understand?

They think we got a death wish

We just want peace and equality, cause aint no freedom in this land

We spell “Amerikkka” with three K’s

How many more will we let them kill?

They traded their robes in for a badge

Trayvon Martin, Darryl Mount, Laquan McDonald, those are my Emmet Till’s

If I could change matters, I would spare a life

I’m up all night, thinking about these lost souls

Rest in power

Rest in paradise

Not everyone rests in peace, what goes around comes around

Keep thinking you got away with it

Cause you goin rest in piss

And you karma goin’ be my favorite

It ain’t goin’ be no regular piss

Its comin straight from me

Got my hoodie on, fist up, head down

Screaming “I’M A REVOLUTIONARY…BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”

They killing us in the streets

They killing us in our homes

They don’t even try to hide it

Just like them colonizers, call it Columbus Syndrome

I’ve had enough of this peaceful shit

They ain’t goin’ take none of mine

Got the boots strapped, and I’m ready for war

We screaming out, “how many more times?”

To be black and women

Ingredients;

1 tablespoon of the sun’s nectar

3 drops of colonizer tears

4 cups of oppression   

and

2 teaspoons of unnoticed 

Blood

Sweat

and 

Tears.

I am the angry black woman.

The same angry black woman

Who carries her child just to die

By the hands of the ones with a

Stethoscope and a pointy hood

I am an angry black woman

The same angry black woman

Who defies the gender norms.

Beret on tight glock on the hip of the right

I am an angry black woman

The same angry black woman

Who receives unlimited bullets

By the pigs 

when i’m sleeping

I am an angry black woman

The same angry black woman

Who had someone’s unmentionables

Stuffed into her 

By the very black men

That are supposed to set fire to the world for us

i will never understand 

why the world 

will pour it’s misogynoir into my belly

like pure gasoline

and then leave 

when i explode

the middle passage

It is dark. I don’t know how many days have passed. How many weeks it has been. I think I might be dead. But I cannot smell feces and rotting flesh. Both others and my own. The pale ones let us crawl out of this confined space once a week. Always naked. Always cold. They make us dance. They throw the dead ones over for the big fish with fins that stick up from this never ending blue abyss. They stalk us. They whisper to me, “you must taste so juicy let me get some of that dark meat.” my chest no longer produces the nutrients for my daughter. I am afraid she will be the big fish next meal. There are hundreds of us. Packed in on top of eachother. Different tongues. Connected by chains. I would rather drown for the next 400 years than to see where the pale ones will bring us. And what the pale ones will do with us next.

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