Black Lives Matter protest
Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Why should I have to forgive you
when you took me from a land
where I mattered?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you bound me in shackles
and dispersed me around the world?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you held me in a servitude
that created wealth for you and
your descendants?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you kept me in this bondage
for two and one half centuries?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you created an amendment
that placed me back
into indentured servitude for any
infringement of a (policy) law?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you put a noose around my
neck and I become strange fruit
hanging from a tree?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you deny my children a
school system equal to a school
system for your children?

Why should I have to forgive you
when I was beaten, threatened,
and killed when I wanted the right to vote?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you red-lined me where
I wanted to live?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you barred me from bearing arms?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you introduced heroin into
my communities?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you bussed me to all-white
schools instead of busing your
children to all-Black schools?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you began your campaign of
the war on drugs?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you have always marginalized
or disenfranchised me?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you encouraged me to get
out of poverty through entertainment
for your amusement?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you flooded my communities
with cocaine?

Why should I have to forgive you
when you enact policies
on top of policies
that have one in four Black men incarcerated
or on supervised release?

Why should I have to forgive you?

My caregivers told me to remember
that we all come from one man and
one woman, who created many tribes
and nations. We are not to despise
one another, but we “ought” to get to
know one another.

If there is one thing the -isms of
philosophy has shown me is the
“ought” in a person’s life is more
subjective rather than objective.

So, did my caregivers have it all
wrong?

Tell me why should I have to
forgive you.

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.

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Anthony "Habib" Watkins

Anthony “Habib” Watkins is a writer incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in California. He is serving a 33-years-to-life sentence for a fist fight that was his last strike under the state’s Three Strikes Law. His work includes “I Never Knew” in Open Mic Live 2016 Performances in Print Open Mic San Quentin State Prison and prisonuniversityproject.org @ news.