So far, 2020 has been very unpredictable and hard to process no matter who you are. Each and every person has their own outlets, knowing what works for them and what doesn’t—this can mean anything from exercising in the morning and cutting down on sugar to getting in a bit of social time with friends and taking daily naps.
Whatever works for you might not work for everyone else and what you and someone else needs may not be the same, but when these areas do intersect, that’s when things get interesting.
Because that’s exactly what I’ve been seeing lately; people have been protesting through ways that you wouldn’t expect them to be. In a few instances, there have been violin vigils in honor of Elijah McClain, or even just yesterday there was a video circulating of people gathered (safely distanced) in New York, coming together by doing yoga and taking up space as a reminder to also care for your mental health as well.
These are just a few of the ways people have been processing the events, violence, and uncertainty of the world around us—even more so, these are some of the actions people are using to protest.
Poetry is no different. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gene Weingarten captures this idea here, in that people have sent in poetry to the Washington Post over the years and though it does not get published, they still continue to send in many of the same feelings and thoughts that often echo one another.
Yet they are not the only ones. So, today I am sharing with you a single poem, one written by an eleven-year-old boy named Josiah Wheeler. He may be young, but he still understands what’s going on in the world around him, in his world, and his mother’s world.
Growing up as a Black child, you don’t just get one “talk” about being safe. You get one about what it means to get entangled with another person when it comes to love, and another is how to make sure the authorities can see your hands at all times when it comes to a bad situation.
If you’re face to face with police, you’re already in a bad situation and it’s best to make sure they can hear you say “yes sir” or “no ma’am” politely enough to believe that you are not doing anything wrong. Even then, they may not believe you. But Josiah knows that.
In his poem, he tries to process what he understands of the world around him when he saw the video of George Floyd’s murder and decided to do so in taking pen to paper. In his own way, this poem was both a form of expression and protest. So, without further ado, here is the poem.
My skin is not a Weapon— Josiah Wheeler
It’s hard being on that black list.
I know, struggling with the racist,
Protest it’s gonna get violent.
I know we’re all struggling.
Look to me color’s all you see,
George Floyd his neck under your knee,
Bettie Jones killed on Christmas Eve,
By the cops we all loved.
Protest our rights are what we need.
Tear gas in my eye help me please.
How’d this all lead in history?
My skin’s not a weapon.
Having to tell your child,
The person you want to have everything,
That because of their skin tone
They might not be liked,
Or get special opportunities.
Or to have to teach them to not let police think you’re a threat.
Because God forbid that.
Some of us live that.
Let me know what you think, after all this is simply one way to process and Josiah has shown us how his brain works. How about all of you? Feel free to share in the comments below and if you have any thoughts, share the poem if you feel so inclined.
See you Friday.