Kneeling to Stand

Poet Laureate Circle 2021-Alexandra Smith.png

 

 

They told him he was disrespectful.
That he had nothing to complain about.
His protest made people uncomfortable.
They targeted him, they blackballed him, they tried to diminish him.
Because he was kneeling for us.

They said he was innocent.
“If that man hadn’t resisted arrest, that man would still be alive.”
They said he was just defending himself.
They made excuses for him, they defend him, they respect him.
Because he was kneeling on us.

They told him; he was didn’t deserve his job.
They demanded he put his money where his mouth is.
They took his career for being obstinate.
Yet he kept kneeling, in silent, lawful protest.
Because he was kneeling for us.

The defense put the dead, on trial.
They claimed the victim’s death was his own doing.
Apparently, the officer had no other choice.
They said it was the victim’s fault.
Because he was kneeling on us

Several years ago, he tried to explain.
People laid down in streets, malls, and stores.
They silently, peaceful asked for equality.
Nothing more- just the desire to be treated the same.
Because they were kneeling for us

Yet the brutality continued.
The death toll kept rising.
Black men, women, and children kept dying.
There was no justice, so there could be no peace.
Because they were kneeling on us.

We’ve been less than cattle, 3/5 a person, and one drop too much.
We’ve given our sons and daughters to causes that don’t represent us.
We’ve watched our youth go from school to prison in the blink of an eye.
We, the people…We are people… We always have been.
But they were kneeling on us.

As long as prisons are for profit,
As long as black men are seen as threats,
As long as the laws protect some and not all,
This cycle will continue- it was designed that way.
Because it was made to kneel on us

I wish I could say that we now stand at a crossroads.
I wish I had more faith in this country's desire to deliver on its promises.
I wish I believed that justice was truly served.
But I’ve read this story before- I’ve witnessed this section before- I know this position well,
Because they are still kneeling on us.

Men, women, and children have sacrificed.
We have protested “the correct way.”
We have recorded violence and mourned the loss of our young.
We have petitioned, boycotted, and screamed-
Because we were kneeling for peace.

As a nation we must do better.
As country we need to choose to respect and honor each other’s experiences.
We have the power to create the future Dr. King saw.
The first step is for them to take their knees off us.
Because we are kneeling to stand.

 

Alexandra Smith

 

Alexandra Smith from China - Read Alexandra's Bio

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