I went to my friend named September’s 13th birthday party in rural Indiana and I had to
convince her to take her confederate flag down so that I could come.
I still went to the party but the damage was done,
The reason I was so hurt was because still in our country innocent blacks are being slain by
And people have the nerve to display a flag with prejudiced racial history.
She wondered why I was so upset.
July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman found not guilty
Where was she? When the verdict was in,
When 6 non-black women said Zimmerman was innocent.
I was in Florida when they picked the jurors, my mamall’s house when they gave the verdict
I remember in my journal I wrote
How they just gave the man his gun like “We’re sorry, sir, you’re free to go.”
And it hurts,
That my mother must tell my 8 year-old brother,
The way to behave if he ever gets pulled over.
It’s like what you don’t hear in the police shooting recordings,
The one thing they’re missing, the warning
“Keep your hands in the sky, and
explain the situation.”
“Drop your weapon.”
But the weapon I can’t drop
Is the reason I’m a target
It’s because I’m black, woke, and politically conscious.
No justice no peace!
No racist police!
No killing innocent blacks and leaving their bodies in the streets.
‘Cuz police are not treating us like all lives do
When I say Black lives matter how could that offend blue?
How after everything we’ve been through it’s rude?
How is it socially unacceptable to fear for my little brother’s life
How if I dread the day he learns how to drive,
And I voice it, it’s impolite?
Because black people are being persecuted by police
Who receive paid leave
And if you really believed, all lives matter,
Why don’t you support black ones in our time of need?
And September I want you to understand this
When people talk about breast cancer
Would you say all cancers matter?
so why are people mad,
is the operative word “black”?
And oh the irony
It’s funny almost
People say “blue lives matter,” when all jobs do
And their defense is they never said that all jobs don’t.
See we say things like black lives matter every day
And nobody combats it, because the word “black” isn’t what they say,
And legality is only a technicality when it comes to police brutality.
What if September, your dad or little brother or uncle was at risk?
Would you, September stay peaceful? Would you stay quiet?
Would you enjoy being told how to handle it?
I’m upset because
I’m tired of hearing
“The officers have not been charged”
or “They were acquitted”
When there was so much evidence they could’ve admitted.
And the one shooting that made me particularly mad,
Was Charles Kinsey, he was laying hands up on his back
It showed no matter how much my mother teaches my brother MJ,
Even if my little brother does what the officers say
Even if all the talking he does is to explain
Even if he’s protecting a man with autism
All lives can’t matter until
Black lives do,
And I won’t quit until every September
realizes that it’s for these innocent people,
who’s killers not punished,
who’s bodies, scattered,
that I’m here with my fist high
proclaiming Black lives matter.
Alyssa Gaines is a poet, writer & photographer. She is the 15-year-old Youth Poet Laureate of the city of Indianapolis. She has been writing spoken word poetry since she was in the third grade, and she seeks to use her art as a vehicle for political & personal change.