There are numerous ways to bring attention to injustice in the world. Some of the most powerful pieces I have read about justice and/or injustice have been poetry. As Audre Lorde once said, poetry is not a luxury. So today, I thought I would share a few pieces of my favorite justice poems including one of my own.
By Rev Dr Sharon Jacobson
what do you see when you look at me?
do you see a reminder of when they persecuted thee?
am I the union of the four directions,
or a reminder of the systems of oppression.
do I remind you of Christ’s birth, death, or resurrection?
when you look at me, do you think about his suffering
or do you remember his ministry of salvaging?
do I remind you of the one who searched for you day after day,
praying I would find you before society allowed you to decay?
do you remember how we recognized the beauty in each other,
both of us in our brokenness, loving one another?
none of us is whole, each of us is broken,
but we have worked together to salvage civilization.
I represent a critique of power as control,
and crucify the idea that any group of people rule over all.
some look at me for support, thinking I represent an oligarchy,
but I represent those who reject kyriarchy and patriarchy,
I am not the symbol of white supremacy, or masculinity,
rather, I represent humanity and radical hospitality.
I testify to a God who is not coercive, controlling or manipulative,
rather a God for whom loving us into wholeness is the only motive.
to those who regularly practice domination, my power may look weak,
but those who have known me, tell stories about my feats.
they say I am a reminder that God really cares about them as individuals
a God who draws them towards a world of justice and all things beautiful.
getting there is not always easy –
the work is dangerous, risky, and messy.
some feel threatened when we feed, teach, and welcome,
but we must continue this work until kin-dom come.
so I ask you again, what do you see
when you look at me.
do you see rudeness, crudeness and separation,
or do you see evidence of the ultimate subversion?
you and me working in unity in complete alliance
to free creation for its ultimate abundance.
THE TROUBLE WITH OUR STATE
by Daniel Berrigan
The trouble with our state
was not civil disobedience,
which in any case, was hesitant and rare.
Civil disobedience was rare as kidney stone —
no, rarer; it was disappearing like immigrants' disease.
You've heard of a war on cancer?
There is no war like the plague of media
There is no war like routine
There is no war like 3 square meals
There is no war like a prevailing wind
it blows softly, whispers
DON'T ROCK THE BOAT!
The sails obey, the ship of state rolls on.
The trouble with our state
— we learned it only afterward
when the dead resembled the living who resembled the dead
and civil virtue shone like paint on tin
and tin citizens and tin soldiers marched to the common whip
— our trouble
the trouble with our state
with our state of soul
our state of siege —
To Live in the Borderlands
by Gloria Anzaldua
To live in the borderlands means you
are neither hispana india negra espanola
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed
caught in the crossfire between camps
while carrying all five races on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;
To live in the Borderlands means knowing that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
the mexicanas call you rajetas, that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;
Cuando vives en la frontera
people walk through you, the wind steals your voice,
you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat,
forerunner of a new race,
half and half-both woman and man, neither-a new gender;
To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;
Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;
In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have scattered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;
To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart
pound you pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;
To survive the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras
be a crossroads.