And_The_Stars_Laughed

United States

"half of me is ocean. half of me is sky."

Message from Writer

she / her || community ambassador alumni

-----------------------------------------------
Some links to learn more about the BLM movement, police brutality, and environmental racism:
--https://writetheworld.com/groups/1/
shared/176352/version/351132

--https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra
/racism-killing-planet

--https://writetheworld.com/groups
/1/shared/170950/version/337933

Milwaukee

June 29, 2020

If you take the southbound interstate past The Falls; Good Hope,
broken cement freeways and cracks pooling with dust,
if you take the southbound interstate [keep going, almost there],
you’ll snap between the walls of this city, 
it’s crumbling facade.

A pulse dwells in these glass towers, beating, breathing,
slates of transparency basking in clean air, clear air. 
Even these skyscrapers hide behind walls of supremacy, 
flickering limpid screens. It’s a cage, you see, for brass rods mark 
borders here, rim neighborhoods and spew exhaust. Southside, 
Northside, Eastside, Westside [does it ever end?].

I wasn’t alive in ‘93 when cryptosporidium poured through
the water like liquid lava, drowned districts and scrawled 
segregated lines. I wasn’t alive when the atmosphere 
altered and pollution began to split, sticky crests of wind 
puffing through communities, leaving some pristine and taintless
while others suffered beneath the ties of an unequal system.

But I am here now; twenty-seven years past the water
crisis and still this city is submerged in severance, waves
of smog swirling deep like the wires of prejudice that divide
these buildings -- the bustling freeways and gas-heaving factories 
they built on some blocks but not others, the fumes that cover
some streets, and avoid the rest.

When my cheeks were still plump with baby-fat, hands
too small to understand the world around me, I thought
that smoke looked like cotton candy and that these
towers were dipped in sheets of sky, not veils of inequality. 
Wau-kee, I called it, for the “L” never came off my tongue.
But I grew older, realizations clicking like puzzle pieces, 
clouds of scattered pollution streaming hazes of oppression
down on this separated city. 

Milwaukee, I shout now, voice edged in pain at the
collapsing buildings around me, brick built on brick 
built on hateful bias. Milwaukee, I yell, a sound in a swarm
fighting for justice, declarations joining 
together in a symphony of righteous noise. Milwaukee --

This earth, 
this city -- it’s not 
expendable, and 
neither are its
people.


 
Unfortunately, environmental racism is a major problem in my state, specifically in Milwaukee, and it needs to be fixed. Please refer to the following sources I used to help write this poem if you would like to know more about the ties between climate change and racial justice as well as the specific events I mention. Through educating ourselves about these issues, we can build a better planet.
https://milwaukeecourieronline.com/index.php/2020/01/11/environmental-racism-an-inconvenient-truth/
https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/racism-killing-planet
https://communityjournal.net/environmental-racism-a-quiet-killer-in-black-communities/
https://waterandhealth.org/safe-drinking-water/drinking-water/milwaukee-1993-largest-document

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  • June 29, 2020 - 9:23pm (Now Viewing)

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5 Comments
  • the contrarian

    Reply: My list for sources on the Black Lives Matter movement is sort of outdated but if you want to put a link to it in your bio then go for it! Thanks for being an ally.


    4 months ago
  • ElsaRee

    Very powerful piece!


    4 months ago
  • avoiding the big bang

    important, and told so well.


    4 months ago
  • rainandsonder

    those last lines- wow. this poem is sad but so important, and the way you get your message across through imagery, details, and adding your personal experience to the story- excellent work!


    4 months ago
  • black_and_red_ink

    Very powerful piece. And thanks for including links for learning more about this topic.


    4 months ago