Photo by Elijah Pittman

Protesters, 7 with a Golden Shovel

After Gwendolyn Brooks

They told us we

were wrong to burn down real

stores and communities. We should be cool,

they said. They must understand who we

are. It is time for us to go all the way left

We will destroy systems and schools

Of thought. They underestimate who we

are. We will no longer lurk.

We will be out early, we will be out late.

We are strong. We are loud. We

are here. We strike.

We will no longer take the crooked with the straight.

Say their names. Fuck tha Police. We

Sound off. Lift every voice, we sing.

We have bricks, fireworks, and their sin

We take back our blues, we

take back our jazz

Understand: this is our June.

A week in American life

Christian Cooper was verbally assaulted, threatened through a 911 call that could have been fatal. A white woman falsely accused Cooper of harassing her while he was bird watching in the park. Because black masculinity is the threat even during a passive, yet powerful activity: connecting with the natural world he lives in.

Jimmy Fallon’s comedic Chris Rock costume (in blackface) from 20 years ago resurfaced in the form of a video. Jamie Foxx said “let this one go, there are bigger fish to fry…#changecourse*.” Can you untangle these threads, can they be separated in these United States?

George Floyd was murdered by white supremacy’s knee to his neck and a system that strong arms its citizens. To breathe for him, to choke America, they burned down an almost completed apartment development, set alight a Target and an Autozone; a challenge to a power they lack. And a day later a police precinct. To expose potent rage. Rage. This is not a reprimand. This is fire.

My 16 year old black son wept in his father’s arms.

Fifty-eight years ago in The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin told his nephew, “This is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.”

I do not know if I can tell my son the same.

*McCarthy, T. (2020, May 28). Jamie Foxx defends Jimmy Fallon over ‘SNL’ blackface controversy: ‘This one is a stretch’. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from

8 Responses

  1. Powerful and deep, this week in American Life spoke to my fears. One of losing my before I can return to my family by the end of the day. And my biggest fear of knowing that my children will be persecuted because they are black.

    Ms. Green’s words speak to my soul

  2. Beautifully written, this author gave a riveting story from first person narrative. Thank you for bearing witness to
    this and so many other moment’s that often go untold. We will not be silent or silence. We need ever form of
    fighting ; to as you said dismantle these schools and structures that exists to oppress.

  3. I saw peaceful protests work. I saw laws change.
    But after all this time too much is the same.
    You have eloquently written about destruction so we can build anew and take deep breaths of a new day.
    Thank you

  4. It’s unfortunate that we must have these kinds of conversations; but, they are necessary.
    James Baldwin spoke truth! This is my home. I am not from someplace else. I am home. I’m not leaving. I’m not asking anyone’s permission to let me stay. That is not theirs to give!
    Great job Jennifer! Keep up the good work of being vocal!

  5. Very strong, powerful and gracefully written. Thank you helping us to stand up for ourselves to be treated with human decency. This is a great way to bring a change.

  6. Very impressive. Expressed exactly what I am feeling. Made me want to go out and protest but I stand in solidarity to the true cause. Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud. We still stand tall and proud.

  7. Yvette’s gift of emphathetically translating the in- and audible concerns of the human heart to print is powerful and convicting. Her readings are captivating. She is a true storyteller and her writing is hip. Not only am I excited about reading more from Yvette, I am excited for the world to become familiar with this great author.

  8. “Black masculinity is the threat even during a passive yet powerful activity: connecting with the natural world he lives in”. ” ….This is your home do not be driven from it”.
    Yvette, my friend, I am so deeply proud of your willingness to share your gifts with the world. You are bringing voice to our Rage with the Fire of your conviction. You are soft spoken and slow to speak. Still waters run deep. Thank you for doing what you love.

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