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It’s times like these
When my faith in people gets depleted.
Where the tendrils, tentacles,
and roots of evil are seeded.
How completely unnecessary
and unprovoked the attack,
you didn’t see a caring person —
you only cared 

He was Black.

Were you already pissed off
when you came into work that day?
Was this just something for you to do 
to blow some steam away?
Did you look into his eyes?
Feel his unbridled fear?
He didn’t want to die alone.
He wished his family was near.

Did you see the light vanish
as it left his eyes?
Or were you too much of a coward,
gazing off into the sky?
Even after he was unconscious
you never let off,
you were unfazed
by his gasping, chokes, cries and coughs.
And then you tried to say

Hey, that man was resisting —
Despite multiple witnesses
you still kept insisting.
But you can’t clean this up-
it was all caught on camera.
Bet you thought you’d get away with it,
But this ain’t old-time Savannah.
You set the world on fire
with what you did,
inspiring worldwide marches —
millions of men, women, and kids.

All gathered in masses
to express their rage,
they screamed, burned, and pleaded
that YOU belong in a cage.
Politicians, workers,
professional athletes too,
all weighed in on this,
calling out bigots like you. 
Do you have any idea
how you traumatized his daughter?
How she’ll never trust the cops
and fear that they’ll harm her?

It’s 2020
and we’re supposed to be intelligent beings;
Do you see animals in their kingdoms
killing for absolutely no reason?
I saw on the news
how this brought so many together,
they even came out
and protested in bad weather.
Day after day they show cops
shooting and spraying the crowds,
I guess that’s what happens
when they get nervous, or we get too loud.

But we stand united
here to voice our concerns,
if we speak truth to power 
the tides will soon turn. 
Or hadn’t you noticed
that we’re important, too.
We hold this structure together —
an unbreakable superglue.
The takeaway from this lesson —
what I hope you have learned
is that we’re done being walked on.

Now it’s your turn.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Arnold John Corbine Jr. is an Ojibwe writer from the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. He enjoys spending his free time writing, being with family and inhabiting nature. He was released in 2022, after being incarcerated in Wisconsin for more than 16 years.