“We ain’t Rioting” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

“We ain’t Rioting” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

We ain’t victimized no more.
We ain’t looting the streets,
nor terrorizing America.
We are reclaiming our Godlike image.
We are chanting our REVOLUTION.

We have become the prosecutor of an ill nation;
hunting down a system that has looted us from 1619 till today.
In fact, in those streets,
we are consciously freeing ourselves;
declaring our humanity;
proclaiming our dignity;
protecting lives in black and brown of this nation.
We ain’t rioting.

We ain’t rioting; we ain’t looting the streets.
freeing ourselves from the omnipresence of whiteness,
abject poverty, systemic racism, inequality…
liberating ourselves from historical trauma and injustice
this is our REVOLUTION
VIVRE our REVOLUTION!

The street prophets have spoken
weeping for the liberation of an oppressed people;
they have anointed our spirit to rebel.
this ain’t no pacifying preaching;
this ain’t no silent theology;
we ain’t rioting.
we are following
the Christ
Christ of the oppressed.
“We ain’t rioting,” the street prophets say.

The God of the oppressed commands: “Follow my Son.”
You must be a Christlike people:
He protested, rebelled, damaged property;
destroying commerce in the Holy Temple;
preaching a theology for the oppressed.
We ain’t rioting.

The Christ of the oppressed shouting out, “You ain’t rioting”
breathe my people, breathe, breathe!
run my brothers, run my sisters, run!
jog my people, jog, jog!
you are marginalized and cast aside;
I will bring peace with a sword and restore my image in you
to my likeness,
your blackness is mine,
your suffering I share.
This is our theology, a rioting theology.

“We Bid Goodbye to Your Religion”

“We Bid Goodbye to Your Religion”

We bid goodbye to your religion.
You who have taught our people the way of faith, but do not do the works of the faith.
Your agents defend the life in the womb, but do not save the life
outside the womb.
Your teachers have nurtured our people in the way of peace, but do not support the talk for peace in the Middle East.
Your preachers proclaim the Prince of peace, but do not believe in his
Creed of Peace.
You who despise the bastard children of the Empire, but do not
renounce the Western Empire.
We say farewell to your congregation.

You sing the love of God but support the racists who do not love.
The Christ cared for the poor and carried those waited at the
backdoor, but you rejected those living in the shadow of the front door.
your actions shut the door to our pain;
you complain because of our counterclaim.
your saints win the lost soul, but do not have a soul;
you say all are created in the image of the Father but treat our people
as if they are not from the same Father.
We shall not assemble with you again.

We shall bid goodbye to your christ because your message is not for us.
Your hospitality is not for those in the ghetto;
you follow those who reign in Washington D.C.;
you associate only with those in your fraternity;
We will not participate.

We shall bid goodbye to your god.
your actions cause
our desolation;
your satisfaction, our suffocation;
your silence, our alienation;
your demonstrations do not lead to
our restoration,
or our liberation;
We shall abandon your faith.
We will not remember your deeds.
We shall forget all your creeds.
We will not sing your sad melodies nor play your despairing hymns of tomorrow.
Your theology only brings us more sorrow;
Your christ is imprisoned in a system;
Your god is a friend of the system;
We must now bid goodbye to your religion.

“Rage in the City” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

“Rage in the City” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

You want me to voice my rage in silence
Like a good Christian
and crucify me to the cross
like the son of man
Oh, you hypocrite Pharisees
even the son was a thug
Woe to you!
I took my rage to the streets
flipped the tables in temples
stopped the highways
burned the city
Boom, boom, boom!
my rage,
my frustration
my suffocation
my injustice.

Can be heard in the big BOOM
I will shake the city until my voice is heard
I will shake the city until I am truly free
I am a man,
woman,
mother,
brother,
sister,
cousin.

You cannot call me thug, unruly
Savage?
I am not
NO! NO! NO!
you cannot enslave and imprison my mind
I am free,
My freedom came with a price
If you don’t believe me,
ask Toussaint, Dessalines, King, X, and Evers
All bled in the streets
to set me free
Listen neo planters!
21st century massa!
I will not be suffocated
My voice will be heard
in the big BOOM
throughout the city
throughout the country
Your justice system creates prisons like plantations
sucking life out of me
Taking away my dream
colonizing my thoughts.

A prisoner?
NO!
A nigger?
YOUR NEGRO!
I am not!
Non plus!
I declare it
An agitator?
I am
for the cause of my people
their freedom
The city will hear my voice,
hear my cry
and my suffering too.
BOOM is
my rage
my cry
in the city
for my humanity
for my people.

“Black Sorrow” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

“Black Sorrow”
by Katia Laurent-Joseph

When my mother birthed me, she did not tell me:

my skin color will be the main cause of my death,

my blackness is the main reason for my lynching, shooting, and killing,

my black and brown brothers and sisters were born into death row,

my existence is a threat to someone else’s privilege,

George Floyd will be lynched by the blue mob mafia,

the criminal system has contempt for black bodies,

my black and brown brothers and sisters’ blood are still being used as fertilizer for modern day prison plantation just as the blood and the sweat of our slave ancestors;

She did not tell me my blood; my black and brown sisters and brothers’ blood is not important for an oppressive system that is kneeling on our necks until it sucks the life out of us;

She did not tell me, in the 21st century, my black and brown sisters and brothers will still utter the words “I can’t breathe” just as our ancestor couldn’t breathe in the Transatlantic Passage.

She did not tell me that the modern-day lynch mob wants to Make America Great Again.
Make America Great Again: a black person was lynched.

“Battle Ground in the ‘Gateway to the South’”for Breonna Taylor

“Battle Ground in the ‘Gateway to the South’”
for Breonna Taylor

Who are these strangers in our Land?
monsters in gray invading the South side of the “Derby City”;
the Blue force from the Highview;
women in blue form from the Creek;
boys in black, leaving their body cams in the East side;
blue, gray, and black they wear in the River Side;
rough fabric of the Devil on the Cross, maturing their view, purview, and counterview.
Black boots and shiny helmets marching to the sound of the melody of “The Ville”;
bearing banners painted with dying stars and fading red and white
stripes, they walked in tight ranks;
bearing flags decorating with abandoned crosses and human skulls, they waged war in the riverbanks;
spilling petals of blood in the South side in one, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight shots in Taylor’s chest;
screaming, gossiping, and cheering after the fact;
How long, the black mother screams, will I mourn the wrongful death of
my Breonna?

Who are these strangers in our Land?
beasts running in the “City of Beautiful Churches”;
spies of the nation who have come in our homes to take our fruit;
people who produce conditions of distress and tiredness in “The Fall City”;
Where do these boys in blue come from?
Who is their leader?
we are trampled by thousands of boots;
living in terror of their bloodroots;
inhaling in fear because of their bitterroots;
“they’re killing us…our songbirds are gone,” the youth rage.

The children on the other side of the East shout:
“we cause no harm to human life.”
“like a lion in a cage, waiting for reports and justice.”
“Listen, do not call the FORCE in BLUE or dial 911 for RESCUE.”
The elderly in the shadow of the East ask:
“Who will flog those who have shed our blood in the South side of The Ville?
The mothers outside of the Edgewood cry:
“Is there no longer a steward in the Shively hood who can do it?” “We will remember Eight for One dead body.”

In harmony, they sing a new song of protest, lament, and a lyric of hope:
“When you give weapons to the Kĩmendeeris, they smash and grind lives;
when you arm idiots, they will become madmen, coward-men, and men of no shame;
they will hate life, life in black, black existentia in the city;
power in the service of urges, instincts, and patriotic zeal;
power is loyalty to supremacy in white and privilege in Aryan wheel; at the sight of the men in uniform, we lament the death of our
freedom, our humanity in black,
and the desecration of blackness;
we eat in silence, mourn in pain, breathe in suffering, experiencing a
common anguish of City’s rejection;
we’re learning how to manage our common plot;
we try to banish the pain by praying, doing penance;
many young and old, girls and boys in black have fallen in the struggle;
at the very least, we should ask their leaders what these monsters in
gray are doing on our land.

We will lift ourselves from within.
We will rise above the battle ground in the Derby City;
We will resist the arrest in the Bluegrass State;
We will find the courage to continue the struggle and win the battle;
We are ready to defend ourselves like Ali against this new rival;
Our rebellion on the ground will nourish courage to fight the devils
in the ‘Gateway to the South.’”

*** I wrote this poem for Breonna Taylor who was fatally shot eight times on March 13, 2020 by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove at her home in Louisville, Kentucky. It is called “Battle Ground in the ‘Gateway to the South.”

“Dead Bones Rise Up” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

“Dead Bones Rise Up” by Katia Laurent-Joseph

In my dream, I saw millions of black men and women’s dried dead bones
Bone to bone, mourning and crying for justice;
Bone to bone, seeking to breathe again
under the Transatlantic sea, and shackled in the land of the free.

In my dream, I saw shadows of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Atiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd…
haunting them in resurrection journey ;
in unison, those dried dead bones cry out:
If we can breathe again, it won’t be with our faces kissing the ground.
If we must cry again, it won’t be in vain.
If we must die again, it will be a glorious death.

If we shall live again, justice shall rise;
our people shall stand.
They will breathe.
They will walk.
They will exist.
They will have peace;
peace in their homeland,
peace in the system.

Oh dried bones, awake and speak,
so your people, our people can
Run with peace;
Walk in peace;
Drive in peace;
Sleep in peace.

Dried bones, if you must die again,
We must breathe, we must breathe, we must breathe.
Bone to bone, rise up!

“Freedom Shadows”for Ahmaud Arbery

I spent another sleepless night (It’s 4:38 AM. I can’t sleep) thinking about the unnecessary death of Ahmaud Arbery as if he were related to me or that I knew him personally. So, I wrote a poem for him.

“Freedom Shadows”
for Ahmaud Arbery

If freedom could speak, how will it instruct you and me?
What will it say to you in the morning?
What will it teach the world?
when the clock is broken;
when the wound is not healed;
when the pain is not new and stands still;
a nightly song to us will it sing?
Where will it meet us?
at the center,
in the prison cell,
under the rainbow,
or in the valley.
The parrots sing to me: “Freedom shadows, freedom shadows, freedom shadows have no location and identity.”

If freedom were a lamp, where will it guide our path?
to the stars;
to a community of peace;
or a country where it does not rain;
to a place of despair;
or a village where the people live in reconciliation blues.
Please tell me if freedom were a shadow, whose image will it reflect?
your resemblance;
my likeness;
or our common humanity.
If freedom were a color, what will be its preference?
Will it be brown, black, white, ultraviolet, or no color?
The children in the streets whisper: “Monsieur, freedom is all the colors in one…at full brightness.”

Yet this country’s freedom betrays me and keeps us in shackles.
Freedom here is cold and has no soul.
this freedom does not make a loud noise,
nor does it explode.
It hides itself in the clouds of emptiness,
in the sea of solitude,
in the valley of ashes.
It alienates us and does not restore brokenness.
Freedom in this village is
is a lie, not mine.
It is just a dream, always a dream to me.
It is the dream our people dreamed about.

In the land of my birth, freedom passes us like a shadow,
in a home with one window,
this freedom is shallow and suicidal.
It tempts us like the devil.
Freedom in this land is like a sacred space between us and them;
a period that creates a distance,
a sign that indicates a hindrance,
a clause that breaks the bond.
This freedom is here to stay.

This nation’s freedom does not visit us in the morning;
It crosses over our path at dawn.
Why is freedom so far away?
The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully.
The dolphin can dance beautifully.
Even the little birds are set free.
For you and me, our dance is not free.
When our blues are new, our spirituals change the view.
This freedom is not our preview; it is their honeydew.

Dreaming in a land where freedom will be for you and me;
only if freedom can be a creed, I could use it as a need;
Dreaming in a land where freedom could be a warranty deed; we could use it as a seal.
only if freedom times can stop moving, I could start living.
Dreaming in a land where freedom could be free for us and bond all of us; joy will be in all of us.
the melody of freedom will find us;
freedom dance will rebuild our people;
peace will sustain this nation;
love will remake us;
These freedom shadows are only our shadows.