Isis Nelson


blackness in america (hurts)

racism and white supremacy have existed since the beginning /
                                                                        the suffering did not start with a whimper /
no, not a whimper, but a violent, deep and tremulous b a n g /

(it keeps on going, repetitive and loud; it shakes everyone, hurts everyone) /
(our eardrums have been pounded on for so long, some of us forget the noise ever existed) /

            the stones in washington, all marble and pure, were laid by our ancestors /
(red stains, open wounds, infections, puss, dark skin cut open) /
            once, we were slaves; now, we're barely human at all, it seems /

                                    you're born with one foot in the g r a v e /
                        your legs stretch -- all you feel is sharp, unnerving pain /
            you came into this world hated and condemned /
the system, the one every american is born and forced into, was not made for you /
(white men made this broken thing, they use and benefit from it) /

                                    you can't shake the feeling of being shackled /
                                                your chains are breakable /
            (but you, and the people like you, do not have the tools to shatter any binding) /

even most of our founding fathers, the men (and women) who began this country “owned” slaves /
(we hold them so high, so reverently; they were never angels or gods at all) /
they went on a quest in search of freedom /
                                                                                    but, they only found it for themselves /

every human feels the pain of oppressed, enslaved, and suffering peoples /
every invisible chain can be easily seen once viewed with empathy and compassion for others /
the ache of prejudice trembles in every heart, even in those who don't experience it /
suffering poisons every well of humanity it touches /
sometimes i wonder if anyone else feels the piercing, all-consuming agony we do /

imperialism has dirtied us all /
(the blood shed, domestic or not, is so large that it could turn the ocean red) /
(we're no better than foreign terrorists when we kill the innocent, helpless, and oppressed) /

i've watched as black bodies hit the pavement and asphalt, as the warmth inside them flooded out /

as they're tackled by cops for crimes they didn't commit /

                                                                                                            (no g o d saved them) /

            i'm tired of war, i'm exhausted by fighting -- i just want peace /
i've grown up with atrocities and they have slowly killed me /
my country is guilty of many things, the sins are listless at this point /
(my innocence, if it existed at all, was stolen by a past that is not wholly my own) /
            i don't want this grief anymore, i’ve had enough of it /

african blood that once ran through enslaved veins paints my house, my horror, my histories /

                        (that blood runs through me, yet i'm surrounded by it) /
            somewhere inside myself, the remnants of tragedy covers every wall /
(trauma doesn't let go, not even generations later) /

                                                is this what freedom feels like? /
                                    why does it hurt so much? /

every system is built against us, my chest hurts from the very weight of them /
            i want real freedom, the type white people have had since the beginning /
the kind of freedom that it'll spill out of my mouth like i was punched in the face /
            (tastes like copper and makes me feel a l i v e again) /
the freeness that lets me breathe like i don’t have asthma /

                        have you ever stared at the abyss and had it stare back at you? /
                                    that's what being black in america is like /
                        we’ve been staring for a long time /
                                                (we’ll stop one day, but not anytime soon) /

read isis's biography