Social Justice Poetry

Maddie Paulus

Armed and Dangerous | A Social Justice Poem by Maddie Paulus

Two men run down the sidewalk, white chases black and a gun cocks
The white man yells stop, bystanders hear a loud pop, and the front
man drops
Witnesses call cops and stand in silent shock, The cops come but
They ignore that the street pools with red; they handcuff the man
who lies still, dead

Hours later the body still bleeds on the street
That’s somebody’s child that bakes dead in the heat
A white chalk outline becomes his replacement
It sticks out like a pin — white sin on black pavement

People pass judgment based on others’ skin color
They don’t consider they’re a devoted mother, a lover of God, or a
Ignorant, judgmental, lost on an ego trip, oblivious, obnoxious,
through their lips insults slip
Insults solely based on nothing more than ethnicity, nationality, and background
Based on physical identity

Do tattoos define an individual? Does a needle on skin birth a
Racial stereotypes lie subliminal, but in the grand scheme of things they’re visible
We pretend minority groups don’t exist in this country
as if the white man doesn’t make the most money

Black, Male, 6’3, lists a random man’s ID, only his appearance
Doesn’t list his qualities, or who he is
No description of his reality

Or why he cries in silence at night, alone he works hard to raise his
daughter right
Or that his wife walked out 2 years ago, left him to raise a daughter on his own
In a home deprived of heat, because electricity isn’t free
and jobs aren’t looking for Black, Male, 6’3
or his petty theft history

He stole over-the-counter pills, to help his stress when he couldn’t pay the bills
No, he wasn’t mentally ill, or a villain, and what he took wasn’t
worth half a million
He didn’t harm another civilian, but the minor charge took away his
free will

Free will is the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate
It doesn’t include necessary court dates
Or jail time; 6 months behind gates

Here we are in 2015, and police are still keen on unleashing shots on the scene
Immediately upon arrival, whether they’re killing an adult or teen
Let’s remember life is ageless
Who’s really armed and dangerous?

A gun gripped tightly in a hand, the power to take the life of a man
Is the need for violent force in higher demand, than a daughter who
needs her biggest fan
Than a wife who’ll lose her soul mate, her first date, all she loves until her heart breaks
Than a brother who’ll lose his best friend, they thought they’d
make it together to the end

Than a mother who’ll lose her baby, her sight will go hazy, she’ll
drive herself crazy
and blame an unconsidered decision on not keeping him under her
consistent vision
or maybe she’ll blame her religion, and make her greatest

Innocent claims cover the sound of deadly police-fired rounds
Bound to be declared self-defense, while key evidence is sloppily
The court states there was no malintent, but a body hit the cement
The issue here is bigger than a gun, prejudices linger in everyone

The gun fires ‘cause of a finger, but it’s a thought that pulls
the trigger