America,  Black people in America,  equality,  Justice,  live,  minorities,  race,  state violence,  unity

Poem: Death is passive. Killing is not.

This poem came from frustration with the passive language most media use to report state-sanctioned murder and police brutality. They say “the death of” this person or that person, as if the person died in an unremarkable way. They speak of people who “lost their life” as if the opportunity to reclaim lost life is available. A more accurate wording would be “life was taken.” Life was stolen. Life was destroyed by someone who had no right to take a life.

Death is passive. Killing is not.
On the lynchings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breyonna Taylor and George Floyd

Death is a passive word.
There is no story attached to death.

Killing is an active word.
Someone does something:
Killer killed.

There’s always a story attached to a killing.
Who did the killer kill?
Why did the killer target the victim?
How was the victim killed?
Will the killer be prosecuted?
Is the killer still breathing?
Why do killers kill?

People who kill inherently believe
They are judge, jury and executioner.
They are the law,
Inhabiting space above, beyond
and around societal norms.
They enjoy an extrajudicial existence.
The law as we know it
needs to be eliminated.
We need to write new laws.
We need to establish new societal norms.
Killers need to know
Murder is not something else
Because of their badge
Skin color or family connections.
Murder is an intentional act.
It is purposeful destruction of an active life.
Murderers think they have the right
To take away life.
To steal another person’s breath.
To extinguish a human being’s light.
They do not have that right.

Witnesses need to name names.
Supervisors need to hold perpetrators
Accountable for their violence, brutality
And abuse of authority.
Administrative leave is not enough.
Job termination is not enough.
Payouts to injured families is not enough.

Full accountability and prosecution
of killers is necessary.
No matter their uniform.
No matter their perceived goodness.
No matter their community.
A killer is a killer. Their victims
Don’t just die. They are killed.

Breathing is active.
Breath is sacred.
Air is life.
We are all created beings
with the same Right to Life
and unhindered breathing.
Access to air should not depend on
Assumptions, opinions, political views,
Occupation, wealth, social status,
Skin color, mood, hatred of fellow humans
or self-hatred. Access to air should
not require legislation.
Yet here we are.

There is a great lack of understanding in America,
An astonishing general ignorance across the continents,
Of an elemental natural truth:

The deeper you grind US into the ground,
The stronger OUR roots become.
One day, your tsunami of brutality
Will wash you and your generations
Out into the sea you brought US across,
While WE who are deeply rooted in the soil
Will not only still be standing,
But will be flourishing. Gloriously.

~ LaShawnda Jones, May 2020

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