Promise. Breathe.

by Mmakgosi Tau
Mmakgosi Tau

PROMISE

I stood in Loguen’s park,
Rescuing Jerry again 169 years later
Only our Jerry’s are a long list
of son’s and daughters that
never got to breathe again.
I lifted my placard written,
“Respect my existence or
expect my resistance”
so you never have to.
Barely a month old but you know
the words “no justice, no peace.”
Clench your fist my daughter,
raise it high above your teeny
tiny shoulders. They will laugh at you.
Tell them that your mother
named you Revolution
after the war on racism 2020.
Your middle name, Ishere,
is my devotion to resistance.

We walked through the great central depot
unafraid because Harriet Tubman showed us how.
We channeled the Claudette Colvin in us
Weeks after George Floyd
pressed between an old tar road in Minneapolis
And Derek Chauvin’s knee
Pleaded for one more breath
Begging his mother to return
from Eden to save him one more time.
We defied a pandemic so that you,
Revolution Ishere would say your name
and believe it.

*************************************

BREATHE

Roar
So hard that the wind in your words awaken the birds
through cracked walls, stained windows, and dusty screens.
Shake the sleeping sun that burnt the backs of your ancestors.
Tell her there is a new dawn breaking without her consent.

Roar
Make your feet step louder on pathways black people
were once illegal to walk on.
March with gloves on your fingers so that your fingerprints
stay clear of the system.
Wear a mask to give your legacy a fighting chance.

Roar
against the heavy cloud of tear gas lacerating
through each layer of your skin.
Tell your eyes it’s okay to weep for Breonna Taylor,
Akai Gurley and Emmett Till.
Roar until your voice cracks, remember they can no longer speak.

Roar
So that the son of your great-grandchild won’t have
to fight to justify the color of his skin to stay alive

Roar
So that his daughter meets Shirley Chisholm,
the first woman on a presidential ballot,
in her history books, and just like her, has the
boldness to take up space where impossibilities
once were.

Roar
So that the sound of your voice
Is loud enough to hail a change that is here to stay

Racial Justice

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