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News about our programmes 30, Sept. 2014

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African Writers’ Corner

For Oscar

Sheilagh ‘Cat’ Brooks

2009-02-12, Issue 419

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/54033

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Oscar Grant was brutally killed by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police (in California, USA) in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009, an event that was captured on video and widely circulated across the internet. In a poetic response, Sheilagh ‘Cat’ Brooks reflects on the impact of this event.

How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police
They killed him
Shot him in the back in cold blood
And now we stand in awe and anger and pain
I’m not exactly sure why we’re shocked
It’s not new, just more of the same
Black blood flowing in the white man’s streets
Black blood flowing and yet they’ll set that pig free
History repeats itself and still we never learn
Perhaps the only the way they’ll know is if we let this fucker burn
I am Oscar Grant
That is what the masses scream
I see the thousands in the streets
And I feel I’m in a dream
How we can we be Oscar Grant
Will we be there when his baby girl screams
And will we be there to answer questions
When she asks why there are no cell phones in heaven
So see now I’m on a hell bent mission
To upturn, destroy and tear down this system
That murders my men without retribution
Because that bullshit badge somehow gives them permission
To do as they see fit
So...
How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

And now we’ve reached the breaking point
But I wonder what we’ll do
Is this a fight for Oscar Grant
Or an attack on the red white and blue
His death has stamped a clear impression
Of the mentality that was the birth of the system
That enslaved us then and murders us now
And still there are some who wonder how
This could happen here and today
But were not free – still merely slaves
Jim Crow just has another name
with the cops and the Klan playing out the same games
slave owners and chasers did back in the day
History repeats itself and yet we never learn
Maybe the only way they’ll know is if we let this fucker burn

But…

How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

I’m in these streets cause I have to be
Cause I can’t stand the thought of it being you and not me
And there is nothing else that matters to me
With your birth, I finally reached the end
Of saying to myself, well one day when
The white man decides to set me free
I’ll finally discover what it means to be me
But that’s not the fate I want for you
And THAT is why I do what I do
And maybe one day you’ll understand
And maybe one day you won’t
But couldn’t stand to be in my skin
If I didn’t teach you to fight to win
That nothing matters if you’re not free
That is my hope for my legacy
That I’m raising a revolutionary
And she won’t have to be cautionary
In her struggles for freedom
And revolts for her rights
And God(dess) knows I hope I’m teaching you right
So, yes baby girl, I’ll be late again tonight

Still...

How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

(c) Cat 2009

* Reproduced with the kind permission of the author.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


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