Social Justice Poetry

privilege poems

On an Accumulation of Small Observations | A Social Justice Poem by Cate Gable

For Neil

Culture, the water we swim in, and some version
of the future aggregated by clues—that brand name
on a shirt, straight white teeth, an iPhone versus flip—
keeps us in place, as the children lining up for school
in Kanazawa knew just where they stood,
who was above/below. Ijeoma Uluo, whose name
is melody, spoke about race as we wriggled in our seats.
Of course we want to do what’s right, what’s fair
yet our privilege separates. Being white
how do we feel each slight, each wound to Blacks
more murderous than the last? We’re wrong, we’re
rich, we’re deaf to deafness, blind to blindness,
trapped. Let the oceans inundate, let flies
suck at our lips, and I will know to take
your hand, fall down beside you in prayer.

Concocted | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

He’s concocted a story about
Being passed up for
A promotion due to some kind of
Supposedly unfair quota.
Diseased ego deflated —
Hurt feelings —
Perceived loss of face.
Rather than bounce back,
He takes it as a personal slight and
Mounts an ever-growing campaign of
Vitriolic vituperations and
Dramatic diatribes against his
Alleged oppressor,
Ignorant privilege flailing.
He affirms that he’ll never stop
Taking action against the
Nefarious system that bestowed
The spoils upon someone else.

Advantages | A Social Justice Poem by Guy Farmer

If you’ve grown up with a
Certain set of advantages
It’s natural to not be aware of them,
After all, they were always there,
You could just enjoy what they
Did for you without worrying about why,
Or whether it was fair or not that
They weren’t available to others.
For your fellow human beings
Without those advantages,
The world is a very different place,
One where they may not have access to
The things you did, where they have
To work more to succeed less or
Live under an intractable cloud
Threatening to wash away their dreams.
For those in shadow,
The light looks very different.