Social Justice Poetry

10 Reasons the South Will Never Be Home | A Social Justice Poem by Khalisa Rae Williams

10 Reasons This Never Felt Like Home

1. Long back roads still rattle me. Still make me fear being asked to step out. The night stick, the gun, being turned to roadkill – being left on curb and forgotten.

2. The pitch black reminds me of the fire, the deep fried, boiled, tarred and feathered, the hanging and watching like gruesome drive in film.

3. Open fields remind me of the leather whip, of blood, of dragging and raking fingers through grass, still remind me of sweat-lathered cotton, body parts left out for fertilizer.

4. Farms and animals grazing remind me of the buying and selling of meat, the ripping baby from mother for consumption, the burning and branding, the slaughter, the hanging out to dry.

5. Big plantations remind me of house slave and field negro, of maid and mistress, of dinner service, bronze bodies as ornaments on antique shelf, expensive china fresh off the auction block.

6. State fairs remind me of ‘Come see the hanging Negro’, ‘Where can I place my bid?’ ‘This one has a strong back and good teeth, broad shoulders, and cheekbones.’ ‘Not the whole family, how much for the little boy and girl.’

7. Hunting season and woods still reminds me of running through forest, of bullets grazing black skulls, of branches cutting ankles, of underground railroads, of hiding under the creek, of coon dogs, and sniffing out the smell of a runaway.

8. The Cape Fear River reminds me of the drowning, the throwing bodies over the bridge to hide the evidence, the vanishing of whole families, how they threw us over ships like fresh water salmon.

9. Boxing matches still remind me of strapping brute blacks fighting for bets, the bare knuckle knocking out until unconscious for entertainment. How they used to toast to the tearing of flesh. Smoked a cigar in celebration when one was dead.

10. Southern belle and sweet tea still smell like centuries of injustice. Southern comfort taste like privilege. Southern hospitality still sounds too unsettling to ever feel like home.


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