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after Kimberly Jones
I don’t know much about God, but I remember
when I taught 7th grade history in a ghetto and Kelvin
told me how he found a body on his walk to school.
Kelvin’s stare was not the stare of some old war
veteran, but the stare of a child who knows
his history was written long before my class.
So here’s what this old white history teacher learned
from Kelvin and the Black kids in the ghetto school.
Today our laws will not save us. So we pray
blessed be the soul of Michael Brown, who died
a few miles from here, and the soul of George Floyd,
who died just upriver, and all those “yearning to breathe.”
We pray blessed is the man who breaks the glass
the woman who burns the Target. Blessed be the rage.
Blessed be the rage that so little has changed
from Emmett Till to Eric Garner. Blessed be.
Blessed be the rage of a man risks Covid-19
to carry a sign that says, “Black Lives Matter.”
Blessed be the rage of the woman who asks
“Why is that looter infuriated?” and not
“What is that looter stealing?” Blessed be.
Blessed the man who remembers Ahmaud Arbery
and the woman who remembers Rosewood.
Blessed be those who remember that Black folks
in Greenwood, Tulsa, were bombed from the air.
And blessed the Black woman, who looks straight
into this old white teacher’s eyes, and says,
“Blessed are the Black folks who remember,
after 400 years of slavery and oppression,
that the goal is equality and not revenge.”
Copyright 2020 John Samuel Tieman
Thank you for this powerful poem . It has offers new insights for rage in a culture that fails to remember to remember.
Oh May we repent act from
A space of love and respect.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thank you for this gorgeous poem John. What a tribute and reminder for the reasons for rage—the violations of boundaries, state-sponsored murder, daily injustices. I really appreciate this poem so much, it’s humanity and elegance.
LikeLiked by 1 person
If you’re attempting to justify vandalism and theft, or violence in any way other than self defense, then you deserve even less consideration that that for the vandals and thieves.
Many would argue that the police have committed violence, and the protests and riots are acts of self-defense.
It was so touching, and an honor to read this, Mr. Tieman. Thank you.
And I remember a home visit when I taught junior high general science in Watts in the late 60s early 70s and the caring grandmother who wanted something different for her grandchild.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Thank you for writing this
“Today, our laws will not save us”!!! (My heart hurts with this truth)
Amen and thank you, John.
There are a lot of words about what’s happening, but few as good and right on as these. I thank you for the humility and the wisdom. Blessed be.
Thank you so very much for this poem. What a compound it is of rage, compassion, historical awareness, and yes, faith and hope!
As a former colleague of yours, I know this comes from your heart. May your words that call for blessedness in this time of pestilence, ahem, go viral!
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