In an effort to further the awareness of and involvement in the #BlackPoetsSpeakOut campaign, all of our posts this week will be of poets championing other poets who have posted videos in support of the movement. To read a brief introduction from Mahogany Browne, one of the campaign’s co-creators, click here. To see the tumblr page with all of the video contributions, click here.
With the #blackpoetsspeakout movement picking up speed as more and more poets add their pieces I chose to go back and reflect on one that had a particular affect on me. Scott Woods’ “(ar)rest assured,” a gripping poem read in what I like to consider Scott’s calming demeanor. In fact it’s the lack of “black anger” that drew me in. As most of the poets who participate in the project are asked to say a general yet uniformed opener to their poem, one of the particular lines is “I have a right to be angry”. Woods’ poem starts off with a calm and never rises above it. He runs through the assurances that if he were to be shot by police that he was not angry or being thuggish or being a threat or a problem that needed to be solved by a bullet. All of the problems that seem to draw the attention of police brutality. In fact Woods describes wearing a seatbelt, listening to country music, and not smiling as to not provoke an attack by police. This piece moved me to the thought of how many black men out there shut themselves down in situations where they are stopped by police as to avoid dying. I have had numerous conversation with black men about the the rush of fear that comes over your body when you’re pulled over by police. Especially at night. Especially in the South. Conversations that often end with uncomfortable silence because the truth of that fear that each party shares is almost hard to believe exists. I mean we are grown ass men right? We shouldn’t have shutter in fear every time we see flashing lights or hear a siren behind us? This is America, correct? This poem is such a shout out to the irregular regular black guy. Those of us who actually enjoy the World Cup, your best friend is white or Filipino, you drive a Volvo, listen to Coldplay or Foo Fighters, play tennis, ride your bike to work and recycle everything you can because your green like that. He wants the listener to be assured that he was no threat, non-violent, and “a good boy” yet in spite of that, in spite of the cool, calm, collected voice…he will be shot. All in all one of the dopest in the series by one of the dopest poets in the country.
Find all of the videos on the official tumblr for the campaign #BlackPoetsSpeakOut