Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Poem for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile,all the people executed by police, and the thousands of Native women and girls murdered and missing

It's dark out, my friends. I went to sleep last night, still mourning for Alton Sterling whose 15-year-old son is bereft because a policeman with a Facebook page full of white supremacist junk decided to shoot him while he lay helpless, pinned to the ground by cop knees, legs, and bodies. I woke this morning to news of the murder of Philando Castile in front of his four-year-old daughter (who was taken into police custody along with her mother for the crime of witnessing the killing) by a policeman so obviously terrified of dark skin that he shot a man who was complying with his orders four times. And more Indigenous women were raped, murdered, or have gone missing (probably raped and murdered) in Canada, the United States, and Mexico to add to the already-dizzying total of such women whose deaths are never even investigated because law enforcement doesn't think they're worth it. 

The extra-judicial executions are stepping up. #BlackLivesMatter works hard to raise awareness and try to bring political power to bear on the situation. People of good minds and hearts of all colors gather and protest and sign petitions. Nothing seems to make any difference.

I can't cry anymore, but I can still write, so here's a poem. A dark one for a dark time.

(A poem for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, all the people executed by police, and the thousands of Native women and girls missing and murdered)

I can't cry anymore
for murdered brown men and boys,
holding my breath for fear
the next will be one of mine.
Can't cry anymore for brown women
executed, dying in custody, raped, murdered, missing
and no one investigating my sisters, cousins.
All my tears have boiled away in rage
that, even as these murders and extra-judicial executions multiply,
publishers, producers, editors, writers, on-air personalities
continue to present the dark-skinned man as criminal, danger,
someone to shoot on sight in self-defense,
the dark-skinned woman as drunk, drugged slut
deserving anything any man wants to do to her,
no matter her own feelings or rights.
Let's face it—brown skin abrogates all rights
in America.

So white America continues to fear the dark boogeyman
and lust for/despise the loose-moraled exotic woman.
So police see dark skin as a weapon in its own right
that could murder them on sight if they don't shoot first.
So sexual predators--#NotAllMen--see a woman of color
as a come-on, sign of easy prey
no sheriff will arrest for, no news outlet investigate.
And the whole demented cycle, reaching back
to the founding of this nation on the murder and enslavement
of Indians and Africans and the fear of them,
their just anger and desire for freedom,
plays out again and again.
There is rot at the root of the tree of liberty
in America.

© 2016 Linda Rodriguez