We Must Meet The Common Foe!

Claude McKay
Claude McKay (1889 – 1948)

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

Martin Luther King

If We Must Die

by Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

 


It is difficult to not be bitter the past few days. There has been no tranquility this week in Minneapolis, just collective grief and anger over the tragic death of George Floyd.  I can not make sense of this violence. It is too senseless. Why did this happen? Why does it keep happening? What has to change for police offers in Minneapolis and else where around the country to stop killing unarmed black men? What has to change in the hearts of men to stop being afraid and start being brave enough to care about the humanity of each and every person in their community?

Interviews with George Floyd’s loved ones have shared that he was proud to call Minneapolis home.  I have been proud to call Minneapolis and Minnesota my home, but I am not proud today. I am ashamed that this city and state are in the global headlines for the vilest of reasons – violence, racism, police brutality, police indifference, and injustice.  I hope one day that we can restore that pride, by making genuine strides to address these issues to address the injustices of equality that plague our society.

Saying I am sorry is not enough.  This community did not do what it should have done; value and protect Floyd’s life.  We can hold the men responsible, we can act towards justice but it’s not enough.  We need change.  We need to demand fundamental change. I am appalled that the policemen sworn to protect and serve do not understand the concepts of –  protect and serve.  I am deeply saddened for the family and friends of George Floyd. I am sad for this community, sad that violence by white men in positions of power steal from all of us; a sense of safety, a sense of collective good will, a measure of our self respect.

Martin Luther King is quoted as saying:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Today I’m crawling, having been brought to my knees in sadness and shame.   But I hope, somehow, we can keep moving forward as a community and as a country and as a global community.  George Floyd deserved better.  We can do better.

 

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A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations.

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