Forgive Me If I Do Not Believe You. Black Lives Matter.

 

 

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A month can’t go by without another disturbing story surfacing about racism, brutality, and what it really looks like to be a black person in America today.

Rarely am I at a loss for words. Words are what I do… and yet since Ferguson, I have been unable to translate my confusion, my anger, my sadness, into sentences.

This civil unrest is time-warped.

Because of my Asian background, I don’t necessarily live in the space that is white privilege… but I do live with the privilege of not being black. I don’t think I’ve ever written a sadder and truer statement than that.

The following is a guest post from a dear friend and old roommate. His name is Fannon Holland. He is a husband, a father, and a slam-poet extrordinaire.

 

Fannon Holland

 

Forgive me

Forgive me if I do not believe you

Forgive me if I do not believe you when you say all lives matter

Founding fathers fled Europe in conflict

Landed and settled in conflict

Pushed their violent notion of democracy all the way to the Pacific Ocean

in conflict

So forgive me if I do not believe you

When sports fans use violence to riot after hockey games

You forget it

When police use violence to snap a man’s neck

You ignore it

When citizens use violence to burn down communities

You condemn it

When a mother uses violence to get her son out of the streets

You applaud it

When forefathers use violence to colonize native land

You white wash it then stand

on privilege and proclaim that you do not understand violence

Forgive me if I do not believe you

It seems to me you have an intimate understanding of violence

How else would you be able to manipulate the narrative so well

You could not stand Robert Johnson

So you gave us Elvis, Clapton and Led Zepplin

You could not stand the Jitter Bug

So you gave us the Lindy

You could not stand Esther Jones

So you gave us Betty Boop

It’s a cultural bait and switch all over again

You could not stand our native tongues

So you gave us the ole Funk & Wagnalls

You could not stand our ebony gods

So you gave us Christianity

You could not stand civilizations far more ancient than your own

So you gave us a trans-Atlantic lesson in white supremacy

You could not stand black lives matter

So you gave us all lives matter

Forgive me if I do not believe you

When you ask why did he run from police

Instead of why did they shoot him in the back

Forgive me if I do not believe you

When you are more concerned with broken windows

Than you are with broken necks

Forgive me if I do not believe you

When indigenous women disappear into apathy

Just as fast as bullets disappear into black bodies

Forgive me if I do not believe you

All lives matter is not a solution

It is a rebuttal

Black lives matter is an awareness of the struggle

A remembrance of stolen bodies and lost lineage

All lives matter is a white washing of heritage

Against the blackboard of history

This is history

This is history

This is history

This is history

This is history

This is history repeating itself

We are the sons and daughters of history

So forgive me if I do not believe you

We are the sons and daughters of severed limbs and torn out tongues

Black fists cracked skulls shackled feet burning lungs

Broken hearts

Broken backs and broken homes

We are the sons and daughters of dreams deferred

We are the sons and daughters of history

So forgive me if I do not believe you

When you say all lives matter

Because history teaches us that some lives

Clearly matter more than others

 

 

Black Lives History

 

 

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Comments (16)

  • Debbi 4 years ago Reply

    Amazing, Fannon. Heartbreaking. Amazing.

  • Kat 4 years ago Reply

    YES! Is there a YouTube video of this anywhere? I would love to see it. It is humbling and real and devastating all at once.

  • Amanda 4 years ago Reply

    Heartbreaking.

  • AJ Collins 4 years ago Reply

    This.
    Powerful and true,
    Sad and yet indignant.

    Perfect. Beautiful.

    My words are broken into single frames. Thank you.

  • Bette 4 years ago Reply

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving voice, for not minimizing, for validating the reality of my blackness.

  • Janet 4 years ago Reply

    SOB. That’s a cry, not an acronym. I’m ashamed to be white.

  • Amy Phoenix 4 years ago Reply

    Thank you for creating the space for this, for listening, for writing and for sharing. Powerful, honest, definitely a voice to be heard.

  • A mom trying not to see colors 4 years ago Reply

    This poem and the presentation of it were a turning point for me today. It helped me reach a point where I could finally wrap my mind around the issues I can’t see in MY community. The poem hurt to read. It pressed the buttons that I wished didn’t exist.
    My hope is that history is not an exact repetition, but that with each generation we are a step further from the mistakes of our predecessors.
    I read it from a friend and shared it on my own FB wall. If there is anyway to find a more relevant front photo it may help bring other readers in. Perhaps a peaceful protest photo, one that won’t set off arguments and opinions before even clicking.

  • […] and a post was by guest blogger and slam poet Fannon Holland, titled “Forgive Me If I Do Not Believe You.”  He […]

  • Justin 4 years ago Reply

    I agree that black people have suffered so much in history and continue to suffer. It isn’t fair how they suffered and continue to suffer by ridiculous people who can’t see past the color of their skin. I just want to add let’s also not forget the many more people that have suffered beyond our borders of the U.S. There are too many sufferings that have happened and continue to happen in all parts of this world to all types of people and I feel dumbfounded not knowing what we could do to help them.

  • TheVulgarHistorian 4 years ago Reply

    Love this. Linked it in a blog post about pool segregation. Sharing on my facebook wall also.

    Jenni Chiu 4 years ago Reply

    Thank you for the link love and for sharing.

  • Jamie Dedes 4 years ago Reply

    Jenni, I am so very moved by the grace and poignancy of Fannon Holland’s poem. We publish an eZine “The BeZine” and the theme for the June issue which we’ll publish on June 15th is “diversity.” Here is a link to the last issue:
    http://intothebardo.wordpress.com/
    Here is a link to our Intro and Mission statement:
    https://intothebardo.wordpress.com/about/

    I wonder if you would be so kind as to connect me with him. I would love to include his poem in our June issue. He can contact me at bardogroup@gmail.com

    Bravo to you for this post and for including Fannon’s poem. Well done, Jenni.

    Jenni Chiu 4 years ago Reply

    I will pass this along to him. He’s a powerful poet.

  • […] “History teaches us that some lives clearly matter more than others.” —Fannon Holland at Jenny Chiu’s […]

  • Jenny 4 years ago Reply

    YES!!! YES!!! Again and again. Tune to listen, time to be honest, time to find a real, honest path to equality.

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