“Blacks Don’t Belong Here”: I’ve Heard This Argument 1,000 Times

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Remix Your Life poet Jaylyn Burns grew up in Oakland, and she imagines a conflict between young people and police officers, from the perspective of one of the city’s parks. 


I’ve Heard This Argument 1,000 Times

I’m big, I’m full of opportunity, 

I have something that attracts danger. 

It’s Friday morning and the wind is mildly blowing 

and birds are chirping in all of my trees, 

dogs barking across my yard at each other. 

There are children and parents around playing and laughing.

It feels so good to see days like this. 

A few hours go by and all of the friendly people are gone. 

These young guys in black who meet here every day 

are sitting on one of my benches conversing 

about how they hate the pigs.  

I can feel something bad coming, 

the inside of my heart 

where their sitting is aching. 

I’m hoping and waiting for them to leave 

but more young men show up. 

These men are in all blue 

and now I sense more tension than ever. 

They start arguing about race and how blacks don’t belong here,  I’ve heard this argument a thousand times. 

Someone throws a punch  

and with wind blowing extremely hard 

as they fight, hitting each other repeatedly 

in the face bloods racing down one young man’s face 

and I know what’s going to happen next.

This is the worst part of my nights, 

it seems to never stop. 

One of the guys in blue pulls out a gun from behind his back and shoots two of the three men in black. 

They all scatter and the wind suddenly stops blowing and time has stopped. 

These two young men are in my heart 

bleeding their lives and souls out. 

No one comes to help and their last breaths were taken 

after fighting over the rights of black people.  

The same officers kick the bodies and leave them there 

for this black van to come pick them up. 

Now the winds whistle is soothing. 

I have my right hand tree clean the blood with his leaves.

The next morning things are abnormal again and people are happy, 

probably unknowing of the fact that their standing in the same place number 203 and 204 died. 

They were and will forever stay in my heart but I want to know will this ever end?

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