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Tuesday, June 30, 2020


by Valerie Frost

Graphic from Rolling Stone, June 28, 2020

"I think there's racism in the United States still but I don't think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist.” —William Barr on CBS Face the Nation, June 7, 2020

“There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal justice system is racist. Here’s the proof.” —The Washington Post, June 10, 2020

I am lost in a sea of
Lily Pulitzers
with their miniature Matilda Janes
and matching hair bows
twice the size of their heads.
Can’t tame my frizzy
Shea Moisture mane
paired with brandless denim pants
from Macy’s Last Chance
Clearance rack.
An ex ruined my 720-score credit
when he co-signed my name
on his gray Impala without permission.
Now I’m raising our kids in public housing
alongside pill abusers and meth addicts.
It’s hard to be financially stable
with two children all alone.
No family to help, can’t own a home.
I have a master’s degree
but that doesn’t mean a thing–
when your digitus medicinalis lacks a ring
they see a pariah, a painted liability.
If I get a raise above subsistence,
strain to put food on the table.
Quick to strip your stamps,
if you dance over
their basic assistance.
They say they don’t see color,
systemic racism is a myth.
Tell that to someone in the struggle,
my white friends don’t live like this.
All lives matter–
only if you’re silent.
When they sold you
that achievable “American Dream,”
they were lyin’.

Valerie Frost lives and works in Central Kentucky with her twin three-year-olds. Her poems have appeared in the Eastern Iowa Review, Headline Poetry and Press, and Dissident Voice, and she has forthcoming pieces elsewhere.