______ while Black

zero days

I would love to see this sign ever read anything other than zero. Why is that too much to ask?

The Starbucks story is worse than white nonsense, however. So much worse. Every time police are called in to deal with a Black person, there is a terrifyingly good chance of that situation ending in the Black person’s death. To pretend ignorance of that, to pretend that calling the police is SOP and in no way problematic, is hateful and reeks of privilege.

Yes, I’m glad this story didn’t end with two dead Black men. Of course I’m glad of that. This story should never have been a story, however. Being glad these men still walk and breathe in the world isn’t good enough.

How much damage did stress and fear to to their systems as they sat in that coffee shop and more and more and more cops showed up to stand over them threateningly? Did they think they would die that day? Did they imagine what random, unflattering picture would be used on the news to make them look like criminals instead of like men sitting quietly minding their own damn business? Did they wonder how long it would take to turn the tragedies of their deaths into a problem of their own making?

I’m so tired.

__________ while Black
(An erasure of Monique Judge’s implicit bias breakdown in The Root.)

Two Black men arrested
for being black
and minding their business.
The threat — two Black men
sitting in the store.
Being Black.
Of course, this is implicit bias —
when fear guides your actions,
you call the police
on two Black men sitting quietly,
being Black
Police used against Black people
as a weapon,
used as tools of terror
against Black men
for being Black.
Because that is exactly
how implicit bias works.

It’s National Poetry Month! Every year, I choose a specific form and try to write a poem a day in that form. This year, I am trying erasure poems and I want to use news articles as my source texts. I’ve practiced a few times, and it’s already feeling difficult! We’ll see how it goes.

Here’s an edited version of the Wiki definition of this form:
Erasure Poetry: a form of found poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and framing the result on the page as a poem. Erasure is a way to give an existing piece of writing a new set of meanings, questions, or suggestions. It lessens the trace of authorship but requires purposeful decision making. What does one want done to the original text? Does a gesture celebrate, denigrate, subvert, or efface the source completely? One can erase intuitively by focusing on musical and thematic elements or systematically by following a specific process regardless of the outcome.
Also, Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest has some good points to add about ethics and plagiarism:
Quick note on ethics: There is a line to be drawn between erasure poems and plagiarism. If you’re not erasing more than 50% of the text, then I’d argue you’re not making enough critical decisions to create a new piece of art. Further, it’s always good form to credit the original source for your erasures.

Image result for national poetry month
Washington International School

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