Because fire hoses and attack dogs
aren't in my memory.

Because I don't start to sweat
when I am pulled over by the police.

Because my lens might be out of focus,
or the wrong power to properly illuminate the struggle.

Because my voice can only add to the muddled noise -
I'll choose to listen.

To hear frustration, anger, malice -

To hear malice or sorrow, loss and disappointment
at the glacial pace of change.

I'll close my mouth, open my mind,
and listen, and maybe understand.

Written in class with my students after reading Nikki Giovanni's "Rosa Parks" - a poem about the quiet actions of the Pullman Porters during the fight for civil rights. I had the privilege of listening to Giovanni read this poem in the fall of 2016 at Trinity University. 


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