Black Poetry Writing Month: Write a Poem for the “Don’t-Care Negro”

The Don’t-Care Negro

Neber min’ what’s in your cran’um
So your collar’s high an’ true.
Neber min’ what’s in your pocket
So de blackin’s on your shoe.

Neber min’ who keeps you comp’ny
So he halfs up what he’s tuk.
Neber min’ what way you’s gwine.
So you’s gwine away from wuk.

Neber min’ de race’s troubles
So you profits by dem all.
Neber min’ your leaders’ stumblin’
So you he’ps to mak’ dem fall.

Neber min’ what’s true tomorrow
So you libes a dream today.
Neber min’ what tax is levied
So it’s not on craps or play.

Neber min’ how hard you labors
So you does it to de en’
Dat de judge is boun’ to sen’ you
An’ your record to de “pen.”

Neber min’ your manhood’s risin’
So you habe a way to stay it.
Neber min’ folks’ good opinion
So you habe a way to slay it.

Neber min’ man’s why an’ wharfo’
So de world is big an’ roun’.
Neber min’ whar next you’s gwine to
So you’s six foot under groun’.

—Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr.

 

Despite our best efforts, injustice still occurs in our society. We are far from living in a post-racial world where we can see past someone’s skin complexion. I still have hope that we can get there; however, most damaging to our progress are the people who choose to remain ignorant. For whatever reason, they’d rather not know that blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately incarcerated, that private prisons are a new form of slavery, that too many unarmed black kids are being killed by police, that thousands of families live at or below the poverty line because of job or housing discrimination, misuse of government funds, etc. Contrary to what they may think, we are not better off not knowing. In fact, being ignorant to the realities of this world is the quickest way into land us in jail or six feet under, as Cotter writes in his poem.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Rapper Kendrick Lamar performs onstage during The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 15: Rapper Kendrick Lamar performs onstage during The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for NARAS)

For today’s BlaPoWriMo prompt, write a poem that admonishes the willfully ignorant bystanders. Ask them why they turn their heads when artists like Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar make power indictments against racism on big stages like the Super Bowl or the Grammy’s. Teach them that caring is important, whether the issue directly affects them or not. No one wants to live in a world where “legalized” hatred still exists. Let’s abolish it with love; we are a much stronger force when we stand together.

—Nortina

 

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