23 June, 2024

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Say My Name

By Ruvani Seneviratne Freeman

Ruvani Seneviratne Freeman

In Sanford they said it was the back of a head & then
that it was a grey hooded man with candy to share;
in Brooklyn it took six more bullets after the first for Kimani

known in Africa as sweet and beautiful; nineteen in Pasadena
for college brought death too for Kendrec as it did for Timothy
in Bed-Stuy; in Cleveland it took one hundred and thirty-seven

to bring down a Black man & two for a boy & who,
I ask, was the caller who unleashed the dogs of the dog
on a twelve year old their anonymity sacred still –

For a brother in Atlanta it was he, not the sister he
was saving that died, & in New York City the butchers
placed forty-one bullets in Amadou Amadou Amadou

for the audacity of having a wallet; in that same
city of sin an altar-boy went down for the affront of
not having marijuana to sell to the bastards &, I ask,

how many millions would his daughters return
for his life, how many for Ousman lying dead not
far from there; no wedding for Sean Bell fifty bullets

for the guts to have a bachelor party
& friends, for a 11-0 pitching arm, a daughter, Jada,
Skills, a life, a woman waiting this is New York man!

But we have the name Black uniform that called fire
down on a Black son it’s okay to hate him go ahead do it do it;
for Orlando on his knees & the two-legged K-9s

who shot him for a notch in their baby-daddy take-down;
in Oakland Oscar lay face down obliging to be killed with ease;
they paid 1.2 mil to a mother for her child walking backward

arms locked behind a head she had cradled once in time before
in Portlandia scene of white freams; like Pensacola where Victor
rode a bicycle at seventeen so they rode over his body and

it was a threat to the state to be Black & autistic in LA, to be
Seven & hot in Denver splashing water on your face, to be strong
If you are Black at a zoo the water-fountain is still segregated

didn’t you know Alonzo didn’t you know? And Ramerley, weed
Is not for you in your grandmother’s Bronx home, not for you either
Wendell, it is for the fortunate few whose skin looks

nothing like yours their lives nothing like yours even in
your own house, what does it matter in New Orleans, a house,
a bridge, Danzinger in New Orleans, James & Ronald they

said it was uncivil but not a crime, it is never a crime when
you die; should I begin from the beginning, should I add the women,
Renisha, Rekha, Chantel, Tyisha, Yvette, Gabriella, Miriam, Jessica

beauty-queen beautiful Tarika & Aiyanna seven at home
with your blond Disney princesses and Pearlie you too,
to die this way at ninety-three and Kathryn you at nine-two
in your homes what had you done? It is always the same.

No crime was committed
No crime was committed
No crime was committed

I say your names
I say your names
I say your names

*This poem is “Say My Name” It is taken from a collection of poetry called My Country ’Tis 

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Latest comment

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    These senseless police/gun violence have to STOP. Gun violence in the U.S is similar to decades of racial violence in Lanka, where there is light, but the tunnel never ends.

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