Dear White America: This Is Why It’s About Race…

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.

Video courtesy of Button Poetry. For more amazing spoken word performances, check them out on YouTube and Facebook.

Please read the following Everyday Feminism articles to learn more about the impact of racism on Black Americans:

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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.