“Untitled Tags,” by Joseph Hairston, Seattle Youth Poet Ambassador


Untitled Tags

Rest in Peace to Mike Brown
17-year-old graduate shot down
In the middle of the street
For a swisher sweet
Complete chaos no peace
When will we reach that day
That day we don’t see color
That day where we can all call each other sisters and brothers
All across the globe we shall hold hands and encourage
Instead I’m judged because I worked with good police officers–I don’t give a damn
I seen the good and the bad
I’ve been treated like royalty and trash
Royalty only because I was in the front seat and not in the back
You call us statistics

Not knowing we had dreams and ambition
Mommy I wanna become a doctor that’s on my wishlist
Never wanted to be on the corner saying here bro hit this
I wanna change
I swear on my dad’s grave I wanna change
But when I wear this hoodie torn jeans and a hat they see the same
Not just cops
Not just my family but my school
Too dorky to hang with the popular
Too rude to hang with my old friends
Too black to live in front of a cop

We want for Mike Brown justice
But because of my skin they won’t
Do nothing–Oscar Grant gunned down, and all it took was one round to take away
Someone’s son
You don’t care
But I truly give a fuck
I care
I stare in the face of a white man
Protected by a gun and badge
Another day
News anchor says
Officer White will be on paid leave
You see
They can kill another black teen
Plant a gun and some weed
Say he was off the nicotine and still
Get paid
While my brothers and sisters lay in another unnecessary grave
America
They try and keep us off this topic
Trying to wake up Eric Gardner but he ain’t responding
I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
I have a poem here
Let him speak
Let him speak
But they won’t let him
Is it because of my hoodie
Is it because I walk down the street I live on
Is it because of my color
Momma waves at me through the window
Scared if she was gonna get a phone call saying I’m in a body bag
Scared to see if I was the next hashtag
Rest in Peace Solomon
Joseph
Poet
This goes 400 years deep but the government does
Not want us to notice
I’m only human, I’m just trying to help
Why are we really feuding


Joseph Hairston is a 2016-17 Youth Poet Ambassador for Seattle Arts & Lectures. He will perform this poem at the Seattle Arts & Lectures’ sold-out Hinge event in conversation with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of Trayvon Martin, February 15, 2017.

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