One Less Black

John Crawford III, twenty-two years old, black male
walked around Walmart with their unpackaged BB gun.
He was talking to his girlfriend on his phone,
his back to the cops when they shot him down.
No chance to react just one less black.

Eric Garner, forty-three years old, black male
preaching peace on the streets of New York.
A cop in plain clothes approached
and choked the life out of his throat.
I can’t breathe, just one less black.

Tamir Rice, twelve years old, black male
called in for playing with a fake gun.
When the cops showed up he didn’t run
because they pulled in shooting.
A young life lost, now one less black.

Eric Harris, a forty-four year old black male,
was running away out of fear,
was shot in the back by a cop
who stated that his own weapon confused him.
Black lives matter, one less black.

Walter Scott, fifty years old, black male
was running away out of fear,
was shot in the back by a cop
for what? A broken brake light?
Good God, one less black.

Jonathan Ferrall, twenty-four year, black male,
wrecked his car and needed help.
The cop shot a taser one time and missed
shot his gun ten times and all bullets hit.
Tragedy, oh tragedy, one less black.

Samuel DeBose, why was he shot? No one knows.
He was 43 years old and a black male.
Was shot for a missing license plate,
cop gnashed his teeth out of hate.
God why is it always one less black?

Freddie Gray, twenty-five year old black male,
had a pocketknife.
Was beaten, battered, and despite his cries,
suffered his death to a severed spine.
Channel 7 said one less black.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
-Abel Meeropol, 1930.

America no longer uses ropes and trees,
instead we use beatings, bullets, and streets.
Black bodies buried, like King’s hopeful dreams,
strange roots buried beneath the poplar trees.
-Steven Hasser, 2015

Who will stop this, this terrible noise?
Who will save our girls and boys?
Who will speak the murdered voice,
crying out from the early grave?

As a white man I think back on my arrest,
and am lucky not to have holes in my chest.
Though my crimes were exaggerated by police,
I am lucky that I am not a thirty-one year old black male,
because I believe there would be one less black.

*I admit that I am nervous about this one because I am white. I do not refer to Americans as black and white, but as people. I do feel overwhelmed every week when I read the paper and watch the news that “the black man” is constantly getting shot down by cops. PLEASE UNDERSTAND*

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One Less Black

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