When They See Us

A poem dedicated to the Central Park Five and all the Black men wrongly convicted of crimes in America. A poem inspired by the film “When They See Us.”

When They See Us
Yusef Salaam of the Central Park Five — speaking at a rally for Troy Davis. Union Square, New York City (2009). Source: Thomas Good / NLN: Wikimedia Commons

When the see us, they see animals, they feel terror. The terror they feel is the terror they incite.

When they see us, they don’t see innocent sons, worthy, and deserving of the opportunity to develop like “other” children. They see bad, darkness, evil, and criminals- accurate reflections of themselves.

When they see us they feel threatened, thinking we always want to harm them. The underestimate the harm they’ve done to us. They fear our long overdue reprisals.

When they see us, they don’t believe us. Their truths stand, even when they aren’t accurate. Even if they need to create lies to prop up those truths.

When they see us, they see murders and sexual assaulters. Black people convicted of murder or sexual assault are more likely than Whites to be later found innocent of their crimes. We also must wait longer to be exonerated. White justice isn’t blind, it simply looks the other way where Black men are concerned.

When they see us, they take. They take our children, our safety, our privacy, our destinies, our futures, our pasts, our freedom, and sometimes they take our children’s lives.

When they see us, they see easy targets, people to scapegoat, and perfect victims to coerce.

When Lady Justice sees us, she loses her morals. She peeps underneath her blindfold, tossing impartiality by the way side. Her scale is broken. She’s unable to measure the strength of Black cases. Her focus is our opposition.

When I see us, I remember the Scottsboro Nine, The Central Park Five, Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, George Stinney Jr., Jordan Davis, Glenn Ford, the Trenton Six, Kalief Browder and all the Black men wrongly convicted by America’s unjust criminal justice systems and bigoted White juries.

When I see us, I remember our struggles are never over. We cannot sleep. There is no comfort. There is no rest for our weary. There is no justice. There is no peace.

Once seen, it’s impossible to unsee it. How much patience must Black people have with White people in America. It’s been 400 years of this already and we are still doing THIS!

I dedicate this poem to the innocent Black boys, men, and women wrongly convicted of crimes who died in prison or were put to death, those who have been exonerated, or for those who are still rotting and wasting away in America’s jails or prisons. This poem is also dedicated to the Black mothers, the mules of the world, who stand by their children’s sides waiting patiently on the criminal justice system to right its wrongs.

©2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.