Today, I heard we finally got justice, but Ms. Giovanni says death is justice for the slave. Feels like justice can only match the destination of the road this nation chooses to pave. I cannot say or sing “my country tis of thee,” when it’s only three-fifths for Mr. Floyd and me.
When a nation choses to amend instead of rewrite, holding onto its supremacist truth with its full might, I know I am still three-fifths. When windpipes are crushed and pipelines created to snatch away my life, as respectability gnaws and tears away at everything but my strife, I feel all three of my fifths.
One fifth rejection from a nation built by those who birthed me, one fifth infection by those who vow to hate me, and the remainder an internal brawl of life force, falsehoods, and ancestry that refuses to forget me.
My movement, my actions, and imperfect being are my plea, my desire to know what it is to be free. I want to walk past cars and children without causing alarm, and be human on sight, without constant performance and charm to disarm. Black is not my prison, and it is not a burden to bear. It’s too beautiful, expanding, and leaping to cause all this despair. It bend with time and place, and sturdy for my feet. It’s whole and sustaining, causing the false strength of the weak to retreat.
Some dare to say, “we got justice today,” but I’m told justice is an action, not a station. It’s a process, not a point, or singular destination.
So I won’t dishonor Mr. Floyd, me, or we, by acting like a murderer’s just desserts define my right to be free. Decency’s baseline is not our lifeline, nor does it sign some invisible dotted line on America’s feigned promise we’ll thrive. I won’t lose sight of our fight and our right to live life while alive.
I rhyme not to rap, but to keep my rhythm, my ancestors’ gifts of pace and precision. It carries me over divides, schisms and fissions, created by powers that plea to separate we; by color, land, and class with paining incisions. No longer — can I plea to supremacy for my fullness. It’s already mine. It’s my history, my call, speaking through my bones with that rhythm and time.
My Blackness is whole — so why make me three-fifths? What is this smudgy plexiglass between me and my gifts? I refuse to commit to see my worth through clouded glass, or lay down prostrate in a poppy bed, inhaling whiffs from flowers planted for supremacists. Our flowers still grow in the shadows, but we demand the sun. We know each ebony, brown, bright petal is deserving of rays, of light, and fully realized existence as One.
For Breonna, George, Ma’Khia, Brayla, Adam, Merci, Ahmaud, and too many cut down in the daylight of evil’s day.