Using Poetry as a Tool of Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

This poem was written in the dark, between the hours of 12 a.m. to 4 a.m., when I couldn’t sleep. The majority of my friends and people I call sisters outside my bloodline are Black. The people who have stood up for me are Black. The people who taught me to love my natural hair are Black. The people who taught me to love my body are Black. I owe them to stand and fight with them, through words and through actions. I am still learning, but I hope to help dismantle antiblackness in any community I call my own to increase our empathy and our humanity.

Growing up as a minority, justice was always a central theme in household conversations. Over the years, I noticed that whenever I voice my stance on a topic, many others are thinking what I am thinking, but often afraid to speak. So, I choose not to be silent anymore. Not just on this topic, but especially on this topic. Colorism and racism is rampant in South Asian communities and it is time that we let people know this kind of thinking belongs to the past and has run its course. We will not normalize the suppression or oppression of any community.

[Read Related: Why I’m Standing in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter as a Brown Activist]

I Can’t Breathe

Why does it threaten you so?
Why does it frighten you so?
To see a Black life matter.
To say Black life matters.

What is it about Black people
that makes you want to
hold them down?
Hold them back?
Is the only time you hold them close
when you are killing them?

Are you afraid of Black beauty?
Does it still threaten your wives
like it did when your forefathers
couldn’t keep their hands off of slave women?

Hating the immigrant? Ah, I see.
What of the Black family?
The ones you brought here unwillingly.
The scores you tore from their shores.
Now, an entire nation built on the backs
and put on the shoulders of Black bodies
without their consent.
Raping the collective
consciousness of an entire people
for centuries.

Did you think that you could wash the stains of American genocide away,
With watered down apologies, half-hearted reform, and broken systems,
After painting their only image as broke and hoodlum?

Why is their blood not precious to you?
Their blood that you wash off your hands,
that you wash out of your clothes,
Their blood that thickens this soil
in graves you left unknown and unmarked.

Karma will come for you,
Because God treasures the blood of martyrs.
The Quran says oppression is worse than slaughter.
I say, “Oppression is slaughter.”
I say, “Oppression is slaughter.”
And I say, “Oppression is slaughter.”

Generations of disgracing
the Black individual,
the Black family
will not be in vain.
Not like the blood
you let wash out of their veins
On brick and asphalt.

I often hear my Black sisters use the phrase,
”Who raised you?” in the face of outlandish actions.
It turns out, this is an important question
in the era of Tweets and Tik Toks
where your sons and daughters
expose what their mothers, their fathers
say behind closed doors.

If she’s saying it and he’s saying it.
That means it was taught to them by their mother,
who it was taught to by her mother,
who it was taught to by her mother,
who it was taught to by her mother.
And the cycle never ends.

But, no matter how hard you try
to hide it,
we will always find

And then we will ask, “Who raised you?”
So we can hold you all responsible
for the reprehensible
things you say.
Your words become actions
your children take.
They become lives
your children take.

There are better parts of your heritage
you could have passed down,
you filthy immigrant.
This is what you chose.
You chose what you wanted
to deem tradition.
So, we chose extradition.

You did it for us.
You chose the hour of rebellion.
You chose the moon of jihad.

What frightens you so?
That they stand, not as one, but 10,000?
Because I will not let them stand alone.

White fragility,
White impunity,
White immunity to accountability,
White agency
and White adjacency
be damned.
It was your sins
that broke this dam.

Know, it’s not just my fist that rises with theirs.
It’s my heart that beats with theirs.
It’s my cause that mixes with theirs.

I hope you’re ready,
Because you’ve never seen a jihad
quite like this one.
For as long as I am breathing
I will make sure they are too.

[Read Related: #BlackLivesMatter: a Guide to Supporting the Movement Through South Asian Allyship]

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By Zarmeena Waseem

Zarmeena Waseem is a lover, fighter, and writer. She studied Journalism and now works in Information Security. When she is … Read more ›