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Recorded for Poem-a-Day February 27, 2019.
About this Poem 

“Excessive police violence against black people isn't just occurring in the US, but in the UK, too. I was in London in 2017 when Rashan Charles was killed by a police officer in my local grocery store, and during the riots in 2011 when Mark Duggan was killed by police. Both men's deaths were portrayed by the media as their fault, and it seemed that many people outside of my community assumed Rashan deserved to die. I wrote this poem after attending the protests surrounding Rashan’s death, and wanted to use couplets to slow down the intensity of the situation, give the poem the air to ask its less reactionary question.”
—Raymond Antrobus

For Rashan Charles

And after the black boy is
strangled by police, after
 
the protests where the man,
his Rottweiler on an iron leash yells,  
 
let's go mash up dis city
and another crowd bulks,
 
the parents of the murdered
beg us not to become
 
the monsters some think
we already are—even when
 
the barista shakes her head
at the banners, says actually,
 
police be killing whites too.
Look how scary it is
 
to be here and know
if we die someone
 
will make a sound
like her before earth
 
is tipped over us.
Who hasn’t had enough?
 
Enough burning
bins, pushing
 
shopping trolleys
into static and sirens?
 
Who isn’t chanting
enough, enough,
 
enough, throwing spells,
the rebellious
 
holding what they can
in front of a supermarket
 
or police stations
or voting booths—I am
 
kind to the man
sitting next to me
 
in C.L.R James Library, even if
his breathing disturbs me.
 
Can we disagree graciously
I am tired of people
 
not knowing the volume
of their power. Who doesn’t
 
deserve
some silence at night?

Copyright © 2019 by Raymond Antrobus. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 27, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Raymond Antrobus. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 27, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Raymond Antrobus

Raymond Antrobus

Raymond Antrobus is the author of three books, including The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins, 2018) and To Sweeten Bitter (Out-Spoken Press, 2017).