Peer Review by RedWriter (United States)

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By: Uma Bhat

Be careful not to be beat   
There's tumult on the noisy street
Don't walk towards the rowdy neighbors   
Your place is with the rest of the laborers   
While pandemonium surrounds the houses  
Make sure to protect the satin blouses  
Hand them in without a stain  
Or the snobby daughters will complain   
When you turn in your keys and lock the door  
Don't make a sound while they snore  
Otherwise, you face the consequence   
No more money, no more rent   
Don't get caught with your hands in your pockets  
Or else the authorities will start submitting dockets   
On your way back from work, during the rest of the long trek back  
Make sure you're with someone, there's always a possibility of being sacked   
If they catch you with your eyes down 
Arms up, there's no room for dirty browns 
Don't stand together, stay five feet apart 
They don't like that, the lashes will start 
Free time? You don't know what that is  
If you don't do what they ask, they'll think you're a member of "ISIS" 
Foreign? They don't know what was stolen  
Your innocence, your life, that age was just golden 
Good things don't last forever 
They made it seem like we were all in this together 
Guess what? That's not reality  
Because now life is just obedience and punctuality  
Around you people jeer and stare
Inside, you wonder if you should say some sort of prayer
When they pelt with rocks and scream shit that's racist
You sit there and wonder how long you have to face it
Yet the rich kids down three blocks 
Think it's so amazing this place has Glocks 
They think that to be "gangsta" is to be hot 
Do they know what it's like to be in the midst of gunshots?  
Just a little more, you always say to yourself 
The coins will add up in that jar sitting on the shelf  
Unfortunately, you're subject to excess strife 
Whenever there's almost enough, it gets swiped  
There's not enough funds to get medicine
Even if you see the local doctor, they treat you like some specimen
Still, you don't deserve the food stamps or soup
Welfare is a scam, helping people is just some sort of dupe
The hope inside your heart is beginning to die  
American Dream? That was just a lie  
They say it's a blessing to live in this country  
But really, it's more like weekends going hungry  
Friends wore by time wave you through the door
The rest of your family are no more  
But it's all okay, close your eyes to sleep   
Only the weak have time to weep 

Peer Review

Wow, it was like a literal Poetry SLAM. The structure was so consistent and the rhymes were too, it took me by surprise how unforgiving this piece was. I felt so... it's hard to explain. Proud for these people who still find a way to live - hurt for these people who have to live this way - and shame, because I'm ashamed to be so culturally undeveloped when my brothers and sisters are hurting.

The beat was compromised of layers of well-thought out verses that made sure to capture an aspect of the persons life with each line. Take the eighth verse, for instance - this is about public humiliation that shouldn't be there at all and only is because of a group of hateful people, expressing this chapter in a colored person's life, while the ninth verse switches to a different perspective and group of people entirely who just don't know or aren't interested enough to learn what is going on. The writer flows so well that I could feel a sort of beat, a melody within the piece itself, and this is hard to accomplish. Well done.

This is a super hard choice. There are so many lines in here it is hard to pick a favorite. How do you pick a favorite? I like the last two lines and then the "Foreign? They don't know what was stolen/your innocence, your life, that age was just golden", and then 'Do they know what it's like to be in the midst of gunshots?'
You have awesome lines in here. Please don't change them unless you have to.

This is a really good piece. It's inspiring and really just wakes people up to what it going on around them. One thing that confused me was the historical period that we are in during this, however. While I think this poem is meant to be about what lower class colored people face in the present, with the gang reference and the glocks and American Dream, but when you say lashes, and satin blouses for some reason that made me think of earlier periods like when the South had slaves or when you say 'five feet apart', segregation. I think all you need to do to further this piece is just clear that up, if you can. Other than that, this is a winner.

Reviewer Comments

This piece is rocking. You deserve to win because there is not only an undeniable beat and consistency of word choice and flow, but an important message, a breather that we as a nation are not done yet.