As you feel dead, but actually closer to death, buried under each day, you feel like breaking out of the dirt, that you will not take this death lying down. You remember 1984, that worst of years, and somehow Paul Atreides on the movie screen shouts to you again, "The sleeper must awaken."
Friday, August 14, 2015
Ted Mathys's third book of poems, Null Set, is out this spring from Coffee House Press. He is also the author of The Spoils (2009), and Forge (2005). The recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Poetry Society of America, he lives in Saint Louis, teaches at Saint Louis University, and co-curates the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts Poetry Series.www.tedmathys.com
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Dear White friends, relatives, citizens -
Wherever I go in this country, including predominantly black neighborhoods and white ones, the worst thing I fear when being pulled over is getting a ticket. I've called the police on many occasions without hesitation for a range of reasons - and never worried that I would be suspected of wrong doing when I did. I felt it was my right as a citizen and expected protection and action on my behalf. But I know from listening and learning and seeing evidence daily that if I was black in this country I would be scared to do any of those things. Without a doubt. It doesn't matter if you are a "good" or "bad" black person.
Black lives are historically seen as expendable in this country. That is why they are targeted as suspicious and harassed and murdered by cops at far greater rates proportionately than whites. They are imprisoned in numbers that supersede the numbers when we actually outright enslaved them. Can you imagine the fear and stress they undergo just from being pulled over?
So when you hear the campaign "Black Lives Matter", try not to feel left out and defensive. This political action is not about denying the value of your life. It is not about you. Your life is considered one of value and that's why you don't sweat when you dial 911 or are approached by a cop. #blacklivesmatter is an attempt to call attention to and make visible the discriminations and threats black people continue to endure daily. I know it's hard to imagine because you don't have those same experiences. That's actually the point of this movement - to recognize the difference. The evidence is there in videos, statistics, and their voices. Try to hear. Please.