By Chris Crass
On the 3rd anniversary of Trayvon Martin being murdered by George Zimmerman, here’s a poem I wrote soon after the verdict clearing all charges was announced:
To Nourish and Sustain Us: a poem to those who have written me since the verdict
To the mother who shared the story of her heart breaking when her six-year old autistic son told her, “don’t worry mom, they won’t kill me, I’m white,”
To the mothers, fathers and babas who have thanked me for speaking out as a white person, because they are so afraid that their Black sons could be next,
To the mother of a family of biological and adopted children who explained that since the murder of Trayvon, her young white daughter has lived in fear of her 20 year old Black brother being killed, so scared that she had her Brother call every night to tell her he was ok,
To the white people, around the country, who have reached out hungry for direction on what we can do to challenge white supremacy, end the criminalization and violence against communities of color, and do the right thing,
To the organizers and activists of color who have expressed their anger, frustration, and disappointment that more white people aren’t stepping up more often to take on racism and that even in this moment of naked truth, too many are still making excuses to not look directly at it, or trying to reduce the power of this moment of historic and institutional racism making itself plain, reducing its meaning to just being about bad individuals,
To the white anti-racists, feminists, social justice activists who are stepping up into the whirlwind of these times to bring clarity, leadership, vulnerability, analysis, and love,
To all of the beautiful people who despite the viciousness of anti-Black racism in this country, who despite seeing the racist roots of the U.S. legal system exposed, who despite all efforts to tell us that we are powerless, are marching in the streets, organizing in their communities, educating their people, and building movement for another world:
Thank you for your courageous actions, generous hearts, and tender humanity,
Thank you for helping create a better world, through your truth telling and strategic engagement, for our children.
To the white men, all of them white men, who have told me to burn in hell, to leave this country, to die a horrible death, let your hearts and minds be free of the poison of white supremacy, let go of the hatred you have for imaginary foes, who you actually have far more in common with then you think.
Civil Rights organizer and legendary white anti-racist, Anne Braden, spoke of the Other America where people of all backgrounds come together to work for justice and democracy for all people. The Other America where we can live interdependently and cooperatively in our full humanity, with dignity. Reject the living hell of racism, and open your heart to the Other America. If not for yourself, then for your children.
For all of us, let the love of those who have come before us, who have take on injustice, defied illegitimate power and through their lives, created victories, legacies, poetry, culture and traditions of resistance and liberation that we inherit, let their love and all they have passed on, nourish and sustain us.