For George Floyd

Poem transcribed as performed.

Help me…

I can’t breathe…

He’s going to kill me…

Trigger finger, counterfeit bill, telling the officer he can’t breathe 15 times, one time too many. Taking another black man’s life 

8 at night, 8 minutes of pleading, a two-minute video, one body to be buried 

A cop with hands in his pockets and a smirk on his lips. Pointing like Columbus finding land that did not belong to him and you still proclaim his innocence

You will move on to the next story 

While we scrape our men off of the streets

You let a guilty man go

While we pick out a casket

You give him bodyguards to protect him

While we choose his pallbearers 

We are being gunned down like dogs and they still have the audacity to say racism doesn’t exist

Say that this system wasn’t built from the bodies of our sisters and brothers

Say I’m angry, say I’m vicious, say that I am an animal so it makes it okay to kill me. 

They use our deaths to teach us lessons, 

Don’t talk too loud

Don’t fight back

Hope that they get off of you before you take your last breath

You have a bulletproof vest and still, our phones prove no protection

We can catch our murder live and you would call it fabricated

Understand that your story will never just be yours

Your movement will become theirs 

Turn our black lives matters into all lives matter because when the topic is not on them they feel shadowed

You can’t be the main protagonist without a white companion

If you hate this country so much why stay in it 

Take this knee and call it unpatriotic

Call us scum

Tell me to go back to my country when this country is more mine than yours 

Kaepernick got blacklisted and a cop gets repositioned 

Takes a manhunt to bring a suspect in

Only did something when we saw the footage

We can have a group of Nazis walk down these streets and receive no punishment

But fight for the lives of black people and let the squads in

You want this skin but not the condition

You want the show but not the credits

You want my mouth but won’t take this medicine. 

In your vocabulary injustice is called compromise and justice is special treatment. 

One voice and make it 3/5ths of a person because it is easier if you can make a black person less than a man. 

And they wonder why we only rise in numbers 

We are only seen as people when we are groups

You hunted us down for centuries

You beat us. You lynched, you raped our women and children and we asked for equality and they gave us bondage

Accept these conditions or fall victim

We want to live but you want to finish what your ancestors started

You killed someone’s son, you killed someone’s daughter 

You tell us to get over it after you wash off the blood

Paint over our memorials

Make us watch as you erase us

Word of advice

Show them that the inside of your palms are the same color as their skin

Don’t do anything that will make them want to come in 

They will cut you open to see if you bleed the melanin you are so proud of 

My mother told me from a very young age that you must respect authority

Never speak too loud 

If a cop stops you don’t do anything to scare him

Look down and stay quiet

DO anything you can to make it home

Don’t make a mother bury her child

Apologized for my flesh, sorry that her loving a black man gave me a death sentence

Be good, and get home safe

One of my worse fears is bringing a beautiful black boy into this world that I will have to fill his bedtime stories with warnings and package his lunchbox with silence and submission. I will have to raise two different people, his blackness and the image. 

That he will turn on the tv years from now and say why do they kill us 

I will tell him he needs to love his pigment and he will say it makes him a target

I will try to show him how to love his hair and he will say that it feels like rope, tastes like heritage. 

When the teacher asks him what he wants to be when he grows up, he will say old. 

That he will look at a textbook and see our murders 

Wondering when he will get his plot

I will have to tell him what my mother told me

They will see your skin as a weapon, your voice ammunition. 

Cover up but keep your hood down, hands up and don’t make a sound

If you are too loud they will kindly compare it to the sound of their bullet

Ask you if black people are so fast why didn’t you dodge it

Is this what they call family traditions? 

My culture was erased by privilege and now it feels the only thing I can pass down to my children is this noose, this gun, this knee, this barbwire

Maybe one day he will stumble upon a story

A man with the name of Floyd, the marches that were held in his name, the air that his people breathed for him

When we got tired of being polite

Tired of being peaceful when a protest becomes a murder technique

Angrier about a black man taking a knee against brutality 

Than a white man taking a life

This is not just in Minneapolis, it is our neighborhoods 

One day I will look at my beautiful black boy and pray that he makes it home. That he doesn’t run into the law. 

I have found that I have come to fear cops more than a burglars 

We don’t call to have the fire extinguished in case they call us the arsonist

How can you question us when time and time again you show us that you will let us die. 

Ironic how a man who fought against gun violence died beneath a cop

Suffocated on the irony, when the cop proved to him that they could make any man disappear 

That he would get his 15 minutes of fame from the grave. 

They thought that we wouldn’t fight for him

That we will take back the air they stole from him

We won’t let him disappear. 

We will not let this son, this brother, this human being fade away

Did you know one of the last things that George Floyd did was call out for his mother?

Mama, he cried as if maybe the woman that gave him life could save him or maybe he called out for her because he knew he was going to die

Like a child seeking out his mother on a dark night

Wanting comfort but only feeling the concrete floor

Mama, help me, I can’t breathe, he’s going to kill me. 

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