Social Justice Poetry

Najwa Kareem

Baltimore’s Son, Freddie Gray | A Social Justice Poem by Najwa Kareem

Would you have guessed you’d be next?
Perhaps you said so to someone close once in a text. Your suspicions concerning the police kept you running.
Did you ever consider that maybe you were too stunning?
That maybe your continuous smile was too bright.
That maybe your face was filled with too much light.
That maybe your comings and goings, your daily visits to Mom were too much.
That perhaps your happy, cheerful, respectful demeanor could reach out and touch.
That maybe a look into your eyes, they were blinded by the sun.
That surely at the ripe age of 25, your life would be done.
An act of racism I ask?
An act of brutality I ask?
An act of inhumanity I ask?
An act of injustice I ask?
Where in police school does one learn that a young black man standing on the street makes him a suspect?
Where in police school does one learn wearing Prada makes you a
prospective criminal?
Where in police school does one learn that having a nickname Pepper
makes one a target?
Where in police school does one learn that a citizen’s lead
poisoning makes him a magnet for a 6 police officer raid?
Where in police school does one learn that having no knowledge of a
man carrying a knife makes him the next chase?
Where in police school does one learn that being a human officer
entitles one to act unjustly against a human person?
Who are you or I to say because he couldn’t read as well as you or I his life didn’t matter?
Who are you or I to say because Freddie lived like many in low-income housing he didn’t deserve a chance at a better life?
Who are you or I to say because he had been arrested for drug
possession in the past he didn’t deserve to live out his dream?
Who are you or I to say because he liked to sing and make others laugh he didn’t deserve a life of dignity?
Who are you or I to say he didn’t have the right to continue
visiting his dear Mother, Mrs. Gloria Darden?
Who are you or I to say he shouldn’t have had the privilege to
continue walking Baltimore’s streets?
Now Freddie our hearts grieve your loss.
Now Freddie my heart grieves your uncalled-for death.
Now Freddie your prideful city has simmered down but it still feels
the pain.
Now Freddie my warmest sympathy to you, your family, your friends,
your supporters, and the city of Baltimore.