Death or dignity (@SadeCru)


Anjanae Crump, Managing Editor

I was taught to be proud
I was taught to not seek
their approval.
I was taught to be great
and let that speak for me.
But all too often
I’m given no choice
but to bow
weak with tears and loud with screams.
Too entangled with fear
of losing someone who looks like me.
For even a man on the floor
is seen to be
a threat
when black is the color of his crime.
I can’t imagine standing tall on 2 legs
And not care what they think
when bullets are what they speak
to grown men on their knees
and women
and even kids.
My husband would be ashamed
to watch me beg
for his life
but “I, I, I can’t breathe.” (Eric Garner)
“I, I, I didn’t even do nothing” (Sam DuBose)
“It, it, It’s not real” (John Crawford)
“I, I, I don’t have a gun stop shooting.”
(Michael Brown)
“Please, don’t let me die..” (Kimani Gray)
See I was taught to have pride
but I can’t be another mother or wife
crying on the 5 o’clock news.
Cause black folks can only choose
between death or dignity.
Die paying our dues for a place they rented
with no plans of us owning it.
“Home” is not fit for the residents with
brown skin and they honor
the ones who evict us.
They give them badges and awards
authority and administrative leave
While we bleed
beneath their white privilege.
While our screams
are replayed and reposted.
While the American dream
laughs in our faces.
I am tired
of writing poems
with the same meaning.
I am tired
of pleading for the rights I deserve.
My mama didn’t raise me that way.
But most mama’s never anticipate the day
they won’t get the chance to say goodbye.
And I would swallow my pride but that
only makes it easier for them to breathe.
Easier for them to see me as the subordinate
being not worthy of being treated like human.
I am tired of protest and peace
while they sleep with ease in their minds
and blood on their hands
as we dance like monkeys on the street.
I do not believe in seeking their approval.
But it is hard to be proud and be great
when they take everything from me.
See black lives only matter when we pay for it.
Either with dollars or dead bodies.
And I can no longer afford
to sell myself.