Of Ferguson and Football #NationalPoetryDay

“Of Ferguson and Football”

The first knee was taken on Canfield

As family and friends collapsed to the ground with grief.

Michael’s spirit had gone, but his young body lay there.

One hour…two hours…three hours…four…

The Gateway City’s oppressive heat gave way to a greater oppression

A deeper pain, a heavier burden, a historic truth.

Humanity, in America, depends on who you are, who your parents are

How much money you have, the color of your skin.


Michael was not a man as I was not at 18.

He should be here to answer for any mistakes and atone for them

As I did.

Eric Garner came before Michael, but his story grew after.

When a man says he can’t breathe, stop choking him.

His humanity, your humanity demands it!

Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Philando Castile, Timothy Russell,

Malissa Williams, Timothy Russell, Sandra Bland, and Walter Scott.


I see a part of me in each of them and so many more.

I see my family and friends in them.

They are so much like us; they are us.

My heart goes to extremes

From rage to resolve and back to rage

And back to resolve.

Between fear and defiance, I go

But by the grace of God, go I.


I have friends who are police officers.

I love them like brothers.

My fear for them is they will encounter someone

Who is not going to jail today.

I fear they will have to make a choice

Because some knucklehead has to prove himself today.

They shouldn’t have to choose

No one should.


Colin took a knee

And the crowd went wild.

He’s “disrespecting” the military you say?

Where were you when the anthem played?

At the concession stand? In the restroom?

Were you having a conversation with your hat on and back turned?

Since you’re so patriotic

Why does your favorite team put the words on the big screen for you?


Pardon my condescension

But this isn’t about the troops, the military, the flag or even football.

There is a certain suspension of disbelief and morality that comes with some entertainment.

Football players hurt themselves, often seriously, for our enjoyment.

Fans brush off ACL tears, broken legs and cart-offs like they’re nothing.

Athletes have been accused, tried and convicted of serious crimes

But as long as they score TDs for our team

It’s not only accepted, we jeer those who dare investigate them.


Some also have a suspension of disbelief where activism is concerned.

Ali became the world’s most beloved athlete

When he could no longer tell America about herself.

Protesters are told to follow the example of Dr. King.

Funny, many of them have a long way to go

Before matching King’s 29 jailhouse stays.

His letter from a Birmingham jail wasn’t hyperbole.

King often lost his freedom in the fight for the same.


But what about Chicago? St. Louis? Detroit?

Why don’t they protest where there’s more violence?

Answer a question with a question

Why don’t you?

Is your whataboutism the result of introspection or deflection?

Guessing the latter.

Sin is hard to deal with

Particularly America’s original, foundational sin.


Colin’s silent knee made a louder sound

Than the screams and cries on Canfield.

What shall we do now?

Will we run to our respective corners and curse the other side?

What is the other side of humanity by the way?

If it is unity we seek to achieve

If a more perfect union is our nation’s goal

We must first believe there is a person underneath.


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