Magpie

By D. Colin

Definition of Systemic Racism (Structural Racism)

​Systemic racism is defined by the Aspen Institute as:

“A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with ‘whiteness’ and disadvantages associated with ‘color’ to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist.”

https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/structural-racism-definition/

BLACKLIVESMATTER: Anti-Racist Resources

New York Institute of Technology Library has collected a list of resources to examine anti-racist thought.

https://libguides.nyit.edu/racism

National Data on Police Violence

Less Punishment, More Justice by David Cole

"How Police Unions Fight Reform" by William Finnegan

I don't know how many generational demons I need

to expel

from my body. I just know that my mind has had

enough exposure

to death while Black. The kind found on postcards--

rope round a neck,

or on a cell phone lain on the pavement. I am never

confused

about where the violence comes from but I have a

perpetual longing

that makes chiffonade out of my spirit, tired of

holding the same words

in my mouth & expected to keep some kind of

equanimity. Yesterday,

I sprinkled red pepper flakes on the soil of my

seedlings to guard them

against the squirrels, render my plants atrocious to

their senses. Last

summer, their prurience for my kale left me with

nothing but dirt but what

is there to protect my body or my love's or my

children's or my father's?

and yesterday, I wanted to rejoice with my recovering

mother,

about her walk with my dad in their neighborhood

but

all I could think about was a Black man jogging, his

body

smitten with bullets. It happens so often, this

disregard

for Black life, I'm almost convinced that to make it

home,

to sleep the whole night through, to play, to pray, to

celebrate,

to exist while Black has more to do with serendipity

than my own God given right to live. Racism is a

ferocious beast that prowls incessantly & I just want

to know

how to be redeemed from its claws. Nothing I would

appreciate

more than to know my body without its mark,

not to conform but to be infatuated

with the beauty of my skin & describe it as safe

at the same time. When I was growing up,

we lived on a dead end. Sometimes I'd go & stand

there

at the edge, look at the creek separating two ends of

the same road.

I never did try to run to jump over. I just wondered

why no one ever

thought to build a bridge. Seems like some folks'

intentions are to

keep some things dead so I’ve decided,

every day that I'm alive,

my body’ll be draped in resilience,

fist raised & knee bent,

my mouth, a magpie of words shouting at the world.

About D. Colin

Originally from Bridgeport, CT, D. Colin is a poet, performer, visual artist and educator living in Troy, NY. She is the author of two poetry collections, Dreaming in Kreyol and Said the Swing to the Hoop as well as a Cave Canem, VONA and New York State Writers Institute fellow. She currently curates and hosts Poetic Vibe, a weekly poetry open mic at Troy Kitchen (temporarily on Zoom). For more about D. Colin visit dcolin.com

© 2020 by The Time for Reckoning Working Group