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Monday, July 22, 2013


by Caroline Harvey

On tour in Ireland, Bruce Springsteen dedicates "American Skin (41 Shots)," his song protesting the death of Amadou Diallo, to Trayvon Martin.

                Boston. 2:05pm, April 19th 2013.

my father, an attorney,
represented the new york state police bureau in the 80's.
when I was a child we had police stickers on our cars
and police license plates sat smug on our bumpers.
the officers and captains knew him by first name,
which meant we were waved through all the
barricades, the checkpoints, the
I’m sorry I was speeding, how's it going Jim, tickets.
I grew up imagining that
I was something remarkable,
that the cops had my back, especially.

I did not know
what my body meant.

I did not understand, not really
until Amadou Diallo
not until I lived in Oakland
not until I watched old women get beat down
for their purses
watched innocent black boys get cuffed and kidney punched
saw three year olds of every color huddle next to crack addicted moms
not until I learned to dance the orisha prayers in LA
got god-drunk with Maria, who was brown and Cuban
and her husband Alex, who was white and from Chicago
not until I traveled alone in Thailand, in Guatemala,
got spit on and kicked and attacked for my ignorance

not until I lived as an adult did I know
what it meant to be a child
and female

and to come from enough privilege
enough money
enough education
to grow up unafraid
of the police.

While the Boston Police, The FBI, and The National Guard hunted the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects, poet and educator Caroline Harvey endured the terrifying and mandated "Shelter In" by writing three poems every 90 minutes. Caroline has been featured on Season Five of HBO’s Def Poetry, and has shared stages with Melissa Ferrick, Livingston Taylor and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), among others. Most recently, she was featured at the US Embassy in Serbia where she performed original work and led workshops about free speech for the first generation of youth to grow up post-Milosevic. Her work has been published in national and academic literary journals, including the National Poetry Slam Anthology “High Desert Voices,” Gertrude Press, Radius, The Legendary and The Lowestoft Chronicle, and she was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. Currently Caroline lives in Boston and teaches at Berklee College of Music.