As the #BlackLivesMatter movement surges forward, many people continuously ask why the focus is so intensely on race and have promoted hashtags like #AllLivesMatter in its place.
While all people DO matter, not all people—in the United States—experience the same legacy of legislative injustice and cultural violence that Black Americans do. And the intentional avoidance and invalidation of Black oppression, by both Black and non-Black people, is what allows for its pervasiveness.
Racism has created a murderous and mournful reality for so many Black people, and this spoken word poem, talking specifically to White Americans who don’t get it, gives that reality flesh, blood, tears, and names.
This poem asks for compassion. This poem asks for justice.
Click for the Transcript
Please read the following Everyday Feminism articles to learn more about the impact of racism on Black Americans:
- America’s Not Here for Us: What I Need to Teach My Black Son
- For Michael Brown and Ferguson: Facing White Fears of Blackness and Taking Action to End White Supremacy
- 7 Racially Coded Phrases That Everyone Needs to Stop Saying About Black People
- How the Justice System Mistreats Black People
Danez Smith was born St. Paul, Minnesota. His writing has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kinfolks and elsewhere. In poetry slam, he is a 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam finalist and the reigning two-time Rustbelt Individual Champion, and was on the 2014 championship team Sad Boy Supper Club. In 2014 he was the festival director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, and he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar. Follow him on Twitter at @Danez_Smif.