Poem: “What I Need”

*This poem is part of our online forum on ‘The Imprisoned Black Radical Tradition,’ organized by Stephen Wilson and Garrett Felber. The forum is in honor of Black August, which recognizes the overlapping histories of Black resistance.

(Photo: Johnny Silvercloud, Flickr)

I don’t need police to kneel with me. I need you to get your knees off of our necks. Black and Latinx Life is devalued; they refuse to protect or correct. It’s not a figment of my imagination– why they want me to forget? I picture George Floyd that day with the officer’s knee on his neck; it has me disgusted and totally vexed. We’re pushed to the brink and forced to protest. It’s really happening; it’s called “CIVIL UNREST”!!

I don’t need to convince or justify your lies of why you choose not to socialize. If it doesn’t apply then let it fly. I need you to know that I’ll rise, rise, rise. Can’t you hear the mother’s, father’s, and children’s cries. Innocent people of color on death row waiting to fry. Why?

What you need to know is I’ve paid the ultimate price with my life, as an anti-violence activist against police brutality and government corruption. The voices sounding all over the world like a volcano eruption. Now, do you hear us? Are you taking Black life serious? Some have lost it and become delirious.

I visualize George Floyd handcuffed to the back on that cold ground. He pleads, “please get your knee off my neck. I can’t breathe.” Repeated history in the 21st century; “PTSD,” its hard to erase our memories.

I totally relate, and understand the pain. We’re afraid of the terrors, tired and feel drained. Senator Cory Booker’s voice rang, “We need transparency and change.” My people came here in shackles and chains; yet, nothing has changed. It remains the same.

I need to feel safe knowing that finally a database has been implemented to weed the bad apple police out. Instead of tainting the investigations and giving the thugs in blue the utmost clout. Forgetting what the real cause is all about.

African Americans are subjected to the harshest laws with mandatory minimums by design. The color of my skin seems to be the only crime; racial profiling comes to white supremacist minds. Systemic racism need not go unchecked. The U.S. has created a HUGE mess! We’re no strangers to pain, my mind can’t escape. My mentally-ill son was killed by police in a most grotesque way! On October 10, 2018. It was a sad day!

We’re incarcerated and killed at alarming rates. I pray the anguish my mind will one day escape. If violence is not the answer, then what do they anticipate [when they] murder people of color? “But its too late.” The people are woke and no longer sleep. Our pillows are soaked, for years we weeped.

What I need to know is, what happened to the Emergency Persons Response Team? Is killing Black, mentally-ill people “the American Dream”? On the prowl to snuff us out. Will it work, I highly doubt. Terrell had mental illness from a child, it was serious and definitely not mild. Emotionally unbalanced but also serene, dashed his hopes, destroyed dreams.

On the contrary, in South Carolina when Dylan ran full throttle in an African American Church to commit a horrific hate crime. Based upon what he was taught. Cold-bloodedly killed preachers, teachers and others he sought, bragged and gave it no second thought. A well put together hate crime was wrought. The young white boy didn’t run; he wanted to get caught.

Shooting or killing him wasn’t an option. When the police saw him at the scene, they halt and talked–put him in a bulletproof vest and took him and bought him a meal while we are unjustly criminalized. Basically, this depraved indifference young man was pat on the back and given a prize.

Unity, shame and fear, has moved in weeks what centuries couldn’t. Acknowledgement is power, at first they wouldn’t. More importantly, what I need is President Trump to cease from his incoherent, racist and psychotic tweets. He needs to eat some humble pie and become meek. He’ll no longer be blind but will be able to see.

Trump’s incompetent leadership is clearly a joke. He had the audacity to call COVID-19 a hoax!! We unfortunately lost about a hundred thousand folks. Just the thought of Trump makes me wanna scream. Desecrating Holy Grounds to make a low-rated movie scene. His main objective is to cause chaos, and never speak facts. The U.S. President is mad whack to be exact.

We need love, peace and the police abuse to cease! So please stop the violence, don’t stay and beat the police. Although some have no decency, morals and integrity.

They maced a 9-year-old girl and busted a 75-year-old man’s head open in Buffalo, NY. Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not around for continuing to be on their whipping post, or dragging my knuckles to the ground.

They got invited to the show and I’m the host. The topic is can’t you see, we’re living history? THE GIG IS UP IN 2020. Like thunder we sing: No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police!! We don’t want broken promises, we demand accountability. And for once and all, halt the profiling racially.

Is it too much to ask for equal education, abolish mass incarceration, abort disparate treatment and the disinformation on these modern-day plantations? And the fake and phony on the low investigations.

Why can’t I exercise my 1st amendment right of “free speech” without being set-up, and beaten, with trumped-up charges, a couple of wrongful convictions and a 6′ by 8′ cell. In disbelief, I mourn for those lives and share their loved one’s grief.

What I want to know is the apologies are real, because that’s the only way we can heal. So people of color will not have to feel afraid when we see the police.

R.I.P. to my son, Terrell Blake, George Floyd, and all of the other many people of color who were unjustly killed by police.

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Joy Powell

Joy Powell is a former community activist and Pentecostal pastor from Rochester, New York whose career consisted of fighting against gang violence and police misconduct. Reverend Powell was targeted for her anti-police brutality activism and framed on a burglary charge. She was then wrongfully convicted for an old, unsolved homicide case, and sentence to 25 years to life. Powell is in solitary confinement at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women.