Black skin in cotton fields
While white men made their deals
Clenching profits, raising whips
Future building with lives in ships
But the workers cut from any of it
Bent double in strain but still you spit
Red white and blue
Are the colors you drew
In black sweat
And you're not done yet
Redlining homes, miming 911 fear
Same weary textbooks year after year
Officer "neutralized", gunshot or crushed
Overlooked dreams drawn in the dust
And all because you won't admit
You stole it, the credit
For this nation's good
Stole it from those you would
Rather just rage to themselves in the hood
Time now to give it back
The pride of America was always black

- Winter Bel


Want to reproduce this poem somewhere else as part of your advocacy for black lives? All good, but please credit Winter Bel. (Write me with any questions.)

Read about the background to this poem here.

Note: I am white. This is white empathy with black experience, which is cute 'n' all but nowhere near as rich and insightful as an actual black voice. So please don't stop here -- seek out poets of color for the real deal. Among those black poets I personally have been enriched by are: Elizabeth Alexander, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Danez Smith, and, of course, Maya Angelou.