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    African Writers’ Corner

    For Oscar

    Sheilagh ‘Cat’ Brooks

    2009-02-12, Issue 419

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/54033

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    Oscar Grant was brutally killed by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police (in California, USA) in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009, an event that was captured on video and widely circulated across the internet. In a poetic response, Sheilagh ‘Cat’ Brooks reflects on the impact of this event.

    How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
    How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
    How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
    How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police
    They killed him
    Shot him in the back in cold blood
    And now we stand in awe and anger and pain
    I’m not exactly sure why we’re shocked
    It’s not new, just more of the same
    Black blood flowing in the white man’s streets
    Black blood flowing and yet they’ll set that pig free
    History repeats itself and still we never learn
    Perhaps the only the way they’ll know is if we let this fucker burn
    I am Oscar Grant
    That is what the masses scream
    I see the thousands in the streets
    And I feel I’m in a dream
    How we can we be Oscar Grant
    Will we be there when his baby girl screams
    And will we be there to answer questions
    When she asks why there are no cell phones in heaven
    So see now I’m on a hell bent mission
    To upturn, destroy and tear down this system
    That murders my men without retribution
    Because that bullshit badge somehow gives them permission
    To do as they see fit
    So...
    How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
    How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
    How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
    How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

    And now we’ve reached the breaking point
    But I wonder what we’ll do
    Is this a fight for Oscar Grant
    Or an attack on the red white and blue
    His death has stamped a clear impression
    Of the mentality that was the birth of the system
    That enslaved us then and murders us now
    And still there are some who wonder how
    This could happen here and today
    But were not free – still merely slaves
    Jim Crow just has another name
    with the cops and the Klan playing out the same games
    slave owners and chasers did back in the day
    History repeats itself and yet we never learn
    Maybe the only way they’ll know is if we let this fucker burn

    But…

    How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
    How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
    How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
    How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

    I’m in these streets cause I have to be
    Cause I can’t stand the thought of it being you and not me
    And there is nothing else that matters to me
    With your birth, I finally reached the end
    Of saying to myself, well one day when
    The white man decides to set me free
    I’ll finally discover what it means to be me
    But that’s not the fate I want for you
    And THAT is why I do what I do
    And maybe one day you’ll understand
    And maybe one day you won’t
    But couldn’t stand to be in my skin
    If I didn’t teach you to fight to win
    That nothing matters if you’re not free
    That is my hope for my legacy
    That I’m raising a revolutionary
    And she won’t have to be cautionary
    In her struggles for freedom
    And revolts for her rights
    And God(dess) knows I hope I’m teaching you right
    So, yes baby girl, I’ll be late again tonight

    Still...

    How do I explain to my three year old why I’m marching in these streets
    How do I explain to my three year old why she ain’t seen me all week
    How do I explain to my three year old what his death has done to me
    How do I explain to my three year old another black man was killed by police

    (c) Cat 2009

    * Reproduced with the kind permission of the author.
    * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


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