For Zora Neale Hurston – who preserved for all the world the speech, character, color, dignity, beauty, customs, folkways, and dreams of the radically autonomous black community of Eatonville, FL in which she grew up during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Eatonville is located 12 miles south of Sanford.

For Adrienne Rich – who knew that there’s no such thing as poetry without justice


We tell your story
We keep telling your story
We know what happened to you
The whole world knows what happened
Anyone who wants to know knows


If you don’t know
It’s simple
You don’t want to know


How many voices would it take to convince you?
How many voices from across the world does it take to equal the power of a handful of white men who control the justice—i.e., just-us—system in Florida?
How many black men have to be killed in this country before we do something about it?


By now, everyone’s heard the story.
Yet some still claim not to know.
They don’t want to rush to judgment.
They want to give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt.
They want to be judicious and prudent.
They want to hesitate before turning too quickly to punish.
They are so judicious in fact that they don’t even want to investigate.
When is this same caution ever extended to the prosecution of black men?


It’s not just caution.
We all know it.
Caution alone is not enough to keep you from hearing what is there for all to hear.
It is not your caution that makes you choose what to hear and what not to hear.
It is not your caution that tells you to give more weight to the imagined stories and tales of the perpetrator and his allies than to the evidence.


It’s white supremacy.
That’s what you need to deal with.
That’s what we all need to deal with.
We need to start by looking it in the eye and calling it what it is.


No amount of evidence can prove anything to an audience intent upon refusing to listen.
What else do you need to hear?
After hearing Zimmerman call Trayvon a “fucking coon”
After hearing Trayvon’s cries for help
After hearing the shot
After hearing Trayvon’s cries extinguished
What is there not to know?


We are a visual culture.
We don’t believe what we hear.
We want to see everything for ourselves.
If you didn’t see it, then it didn’t happen.
This is how we excuse ourselves.


We limit what we know to what we see, what can be seen.
We try to ignore what we hear.
Once you start hearing, you can’t stop.
If you listen long enough, you start to hear things that you couldn’t see before.
You start hearing the stories of the generations of black men who loved this country, fought for this country, only to be killed by this country.


You can’t see what you don’t want to believe.
You choose to close your eyes.
You choose not to see.
Not a hair was harmed on Zimmerman’s head.
It doesn’t matter what he says.
It doesn’t matter what anyone says.
The pictures show it.
All you have to do is see for yourself.
Stop talking for a minute.


From what you hear
You know that if you opened your eyes
You wouldn’t like what you saw
You know that if you opened your eyes
You’d see yourself
Your own guilt
Your own complicity
Your own whiteness
Staring back at you
You can’t indict Zimmerman
Without indicting yourself
So you choose to indict no one
You choose to let murder go unpunished
You choose to sweep murder under the rug
You choose to forget it ever happened
You want everything to go back to normal
You think this is normal


The sad thing is: this is all too normal.
The sad thing is: today in this country black men are killed for nothing all the time.
The sad thing is: killing black men is our national business.
It’s our not-so-secret secret business.
It’s the all-too-common everyday business that goes on in the schools, the courts, the prisons, the boardrooms, the offices, the Capitols, the hospitals, the military, the think tanks, the cable news channels, the movies, the video games, the churches.
It’s the drug war—whites use and sell drugs at the same rates as blacks, but it’s blacks who get disproportionately thrown in prison for it (which, in turn, justifies: housing and employment discrimination, the denial of financial aid for college, and in many states including Florida, losing the right to vote for the rest of one’s life).
It’s the fact that the unemployment rate for black men is twice what it is for white men—which was also the case when the economy was “good” and, in all likelihood, will continue to be the case if the economy ever recovers (but don’t hold your breath waiting for that).
It’s the fact that blacks make up 12 percent of the US population but were the victims of 70 percent of all hate crimes in 2010.
It’s the fact that there was 1 black senator in 1870 (out of 74) and there’s zero today (out of 100)—and we call that progress.
This is our country. Sometimes we acknowledge that this is its past. We refuse to see that this is also its present. Until we do so, this will be its future.


All this violence can’t just stay hidden.
It has to go somewhere.
It wants to go everywhere.
And so, in the end, it comes to the streets.
It comes to the suburbs.
It comes for you.
It claims a place in your mind.
It tells you what to believe, who to trust, who to fear.
It keeps you from knowing anything about yourself.
It keeps you from knowing your neighbors.
It keeps you from knowing the truth.


We gave Zimmerman his program.
We knew he was crazy.
We made him that way.


We don’t give jobs to crazy people.
We let them roam the streets, as long as they’re white.
We let them freely harass people, as long as the people being harassed aren’t white.


Zimmerman wasn’t just tolerated, he was encouraged.
We let him think of what he was doing as a civic duty.
We felt comfortable with him around.
We let him carry a gun.
We chose to excuse the inexcusable.


Chalk #justice4Trayvon in every suburb in America
Because this white supremacist bullshit has got to stop
Because the sidewalks are our billboards
Because the truth isn’t true until you do something about it
Because it’s time

About 11again

Used to be an academic... now I'm a washed up academic. I like cooking, blues music, black writers, and morally compromised people of all persuasions.
This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to #justice4Trayvon

  1. OP is a faggot nigger says:

    Nignogs gonna nignig

    nignog jumps guard with gun, nignog mad cuz he chased by guard when he wanna break in sum homes and steal sum shit!

    Nig nog be a cracka, and he goes full chimpout, since hes a chimp like all the other nignogs.

    Now guard mad, god shoots the chimp, stoopid niggas be angry, cuz they stoopid chimps.

    nignog nignog, always nigg nigg nigger, kill them all.

    Betterpoem then ur fucking faggot OP

  2. Deborah says:

    Thanks for sharing your poem Marc. It says exactly what so many of us have been wanting and needing to say yet have been unable to put into words. Thank you for sharing. I admire your restraint in keeping the foolish first comment above but you are right it does illustrate the magnitude of the ignorance we are facing.

  3. Anon says:

    Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. It was Zimmerman who was crying for help when Trayvon was beating him on the ground. Nice attempt at obfuscating the facts for your own hateful political ends. Why do you hate white people? Racists like you are everything that’s wrong with society.

  4. 11again says:

    Your comments are a perfect example of the way in which white supremacy makes people unable to confront the evidence that’s right in front of their eyes, which is exactly what I’m trying to get at in the poem. Either you’re interested in seeing the truth or you’re not.

    I certainly don’t hate white people. I hate white supremacy. I get very saddened by and disappointed with people of any color who go along with white supremacy in any way (and yes, tragically, hating everyday poor white folk is itself one form of white supremacy albeit a far less common and less brutally and institutionally imposed one than the systematic violence directed at people of color through such things as the rigged judicial system, housing discrimination, and employment discrimination). The sad truth is: in the long run, no one gains anything from white supremacy, including white people. The billionaires want to keep us hating and killing ourselves so that we don’t get together and stop them from exerting so much control over OUR lives. This same basic fact is true no matter what color you are and the billionaires will do everything in their power–especially, brainwashing us into hating each other–in order to keep us from recognizing it. Sociologically speaking, white supremacy is a strategy employed by ruling elites whereby special privileges are allotted to one artificially-defined portion of the working class (typically: people of lighter skin tone) insofar as they kill, abuse, and resent the rest of the people in the working class (typically: people of darker skin tone). The hope is: we’ll keep killing and hating each other and we won’t realize who’s taking our money! Let’s end this bullshit yesterday and go after the billionaires who are the ones REALLY to blame for the fact that NONE of us (of whatever color) can get the things we need (jobs, health care, justice, etc.).

  5. Thanks for sharing your gift with me. It really brought me comfort.

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