And so we resist again the narrative of violence from the state against black people. We resisted when Rodney King was beaten and caught on video tape and we resisted when Amadou Diallo was killed in a New York vestibule in a hail of bullets from New York City’s finest. We resisted when Sean Bell was killed and yet today, we must resist again.
Yet, I am weary mentally of this scenario. My good friend, writer and editor Jabari Asim allowed me to be part of his book, Not Guilty: Twelve Black Men Speak Out on Law, Justice and Life and now my good friend, Tony Medina, the poet and professor, has allowed me to join a dynamic group of writers and poets and make yet another statement on violence, black people, and the state. The book is called Resisting Arrest: poems to stretch the sky and is published by Jacar Press. Go get it, feast on the love and language of poetry to protest violence.
The book is a mixture of all kinds of poetic takes on the problem. All of these poems ask: why does this keep happening and why is it mostly black people who are sounding the alarm on this issue? Why aren’t we all outraged that black men, unarmed, wind up shot to death by the police? It is a fair question. It is not an indictment of all police officers or most of them; it is, however, an indictment of a society that seems to not get it.
Here are the poets:
Martín Espada, Joel Dias-Porter, Afaa Michael Weaver, Sonia Sanchez, Camille Rankine, Patricia Spears Jones, Rae Paris, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Roger Bonair-Agard, Kwame Dawes, Nile Lansana, Keith Gilyard, Ana Castillo, Jabari Asim, Derrick Weston Brown, Mahogany L. Browne, Venus Thrash, Kelly Norman Ellis, T.J. Anderson, Reuben Jackson, Phillip B. Williams , giovanni singleton, Jericho Brown, Ching-In Chen, Niki Herd, Metta Sáma, Frank X Walker, Khadijah Queen, Danny Simmons, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Jaki Shelton Green, Raina Leon,Veronica Golos, Marilyn Nelson, Kenji C. Liu, Marilyn Singer, Adam Falkner, L. Lamar Wilson, Jon Sands, Cornelius Eady, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Quincy Scott Jones, Douglas Kearney, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Malcolm Friend, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Brian Gilmore, Lynne Thompson, Kim Roberts, M. Askia Toure, Mitchell L.H. Douglas,Ricardo Nazario y Colón, Tara Betts, Jamaal May, Rashidah Ismaili, James E. Cherry, Quraysh Ali Lansana , Bao Phi, devorah major, Khadijah Queen, Yusef Komunyakaa, Abdul Ali, Allison Joseph , Reuben Jackson, Minal Hajratwala, b: william bearhart, Jane Alberdeston Coralin, Esther Iverem, Jerry W. Ward, Jr., Ishmael Reed, Howard Lemuel Craft, Quincy Troupe, Thylias Moss, Haki Madhubuti, Everett Hoagland, Tennessee Reed, Onam Lansana, Marvin K. White, Zeina Hashem Beck, Lauren K Alleyne, Rita Dove, Mark Doty, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Ross Gay, Joy Harjo
Questions arise: why is it that when Trayvon Martin was killed a racial campaign was unleashed against his character and efforts were made to portray him as criminal? How is this so? How does that scenario keep repeating itself and most, except for black people, say nothing?
Resisting Arrest is painful and powerful, poetic voices of the moment, who once again speak truth to power. They will not be silent. They will not let this go away. I am again part of a chorus of protest. I must be part of the chorus of protest. I can’t imagine not joining diffcult but necessary effort to write about our times.