Protesters gather Saturday in the Fairfax District. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Northwood High School

Poem: Black Lives Matter

I’m awakened to the muted thunder of one more dead 

Cursing myself that if I had stirred awake some time sooner

They could have heard me


Heard me say I won’t let thousands of promises melt to the ground anymore

Wash up on the graves of those already gone 

Heard me tell the others how easy it is to be blinded by a narrative

Make it known that America has no issues with justice if it means more black bodies in jail

Heard me say that the system wants to make sure the oppressed stay that way

Because respectability politics has never saved any black life


The others rest in their ivory towers 

Noise where they can play pretend

Seek out what it could be like to hide and disappear 

Sweet and selfish through those rose-colored glasses you’re so proud of

Choosing to stay out of politics when that choice itself is shining privilege

I used to keep for myself to race and hide from what they gave me

Hands who grasp and can’t reach, sketch the me even I’m afraid of


I can’t breathe because I’ve seen

Even after bone after bone they’ve labored

They’re left burning, cold and crippled on the ground

Lives littered with black and white simplistic certainties

They try and they try again

Kept quiet and complacent 

Blamed for their own despair

Too much, too long, too real


This is not just another forgive and forget kind of song and dance

Not another national anthem to poison our throats

Not more tear gas stuffing our lungs 

Not another person suffocating without a voice


Please, I can’t breathe