"In the 1970s"

In the 1970s,
a song was released where the chorus asks
"war, what is it good for?"
and the singer responds with
"absolutely nothing."

There's this reggae band that I like
because I like the way they align their notes
and in one of their songs
a man sings,
"world leaders, what are your priorities?
So many wars, and yet none end world poverty."

Over the past thousand years,
and the past million years,
and the past billion years,

fish have learned to swim together,
birds have learned to soar together,
bison have learned to run together,
but humans still haven't learned to exist together.

And take note of that word that I chose to use:
To be.

I'm not citing the Bible and saying that one must love thy neighbor.
I'm not saying that you should give a hug and kiss
to every stranger that you meet.
I'm not saying that everyone should throw their stuff out on the street in order to
help out those in need
- that comes next -
what I'm simply asking for is that everyone be
in the same place, at the same time, peacefully.

Why is it
that when we fly our million-dollar planes over Afghanistan
we're dropping bombs instead of food?

Why is it
that when the 1000-ton chains of institutionalized social injustice finally fell to the ground,
the Blacks,
the gays,
the poor,
the queer
only had a moment of relief
- only a breath of relief -
before they realized that even if fists didn't shower them with hits and bruises
and signs no longer told them where they could and could not go,
eyes still stared at them with the sharp edge of a knife
coated in venom that burns your soul even if it doesn't burn your skin?

Why is it that just because I'm a straight,
for every dollar that I make a Hispanic woman will make forty-six cents less?

And I wonder if you wonder why I switch from war to the home front.
It's because war is not just about borders.
War is about racism, and sexism, and economic success-ism.
War is not just about the people that live in the 195 countries
that aren't the one we're standing in right now;
war is about our friends and our neighbors.

The only problem being
that those that matter aren't always near,
because even though we say we're not segregated,
we live in White communities,
we live in Black communities,
and we live in Brown communities.

And although those three colors may exist on the easel of the painter,
until we can learn to paint something other than
White lines,
and Black lines,
and Brown lines,
the canvas may not be blank, but it is most definitely up to par.

We have easels and brushes and painters ready to use them;
The only phrase they're waiting for is "ready, set, go"
as opposed to "ready, set, wait, let's see how this affects our budget."

I'm talking to you now, men up top -
men in suits
and men in ties.

You're shifting digits and you're pushing numbers,
but even numbers have limits,
and although you're holding the sands of unrest in a tight grip,
the sand is still falling through the cracks in your fingers.
You've been holding the sands for a long time,
and although all you're holding is little yellow grains,
the grains are adding up.

Every Black man shot in city streets just for being Black,
every Hispanic woman that has to work 3 jobs to feed her 3 starving children,
every White man that makes 3
million dollars just for the color of the melanin in his skin
is another grain of sand
- another reason -
to take the sword that you won't brandish
and wage the war that you won't declare -

a war that ends not with cities and borders burned,
but with a White kid,
a Black kid,
and a Brown kid
playing and talking together
because they realize that what you think and what you feel
is more important than the color of your skin,
speaking of color,
how much green your parents make.

This poem is about: 
My community
My country
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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