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Tuesday, May 31, 2022


by Geoffrey Philp

‘Stay Woke, Go Vote’ rally stirs spirited emotions, heartfelt pleas

Where are the protestors from the summer of plague
who saw Black lives threatened, and marched to free
us from fascists and were greeted by an army of fear
mongers united in their cause to make sure change
would never happen, and began a campaign of lies
among the afflicted to sate the elites' lust for power,
that revealed their resistance to Black power—
the rising numbers in the cities they see as a plague,
so every cable series or news story is filled with lies
about Black crime—dire warnings that if we're ever free,
no one will be free, for we will have changed
America for the worse, and everyone will live in fear?
It's what Public Enemy was rapping about in Fear
of a Black Planet, especially in "Fight the Power,"
so we'd start the process of believing in the change
that must happen at the top, or else we'll be plagued
by doubters who will delay our quest for freedom
from their lies. For they lie. They lie. They lie.
But what if we stopped believing their lies,
the denials and gaslighting that keep them in fear
of shadows they've invented—that won't set them free
until they've given up their need for control, for power,
at the cost of the planet's life—before we're plagued
by circumstances, we won't be able to change
once the irreversible effects of climate change,
which oil company CEOs have labeled as a lie,
melts ice caps and releases viruses to plague
future generations, who will live in perpetual fear
of the next hurricane, heatwaves that disrupt power
grids, melt electric cables—when fresh air won't be free?
The ancestors' promise lives in the struggle to be free.
Ancestors like Marcus and Malcolm, who tried to change
our minds about the hold of the empire's power
over our people who have been educated with lies
about our past while others, paralyzed with fear
stare into the future as if it were a plague.
Rise, once again, and free yourselves from the lies
that keep us cowering in the dark. Rise, change your fear
from a plague of doubt into a power that liberates.

Geoffrey Philp is the author of the novels Garvey's Ghost and Benjamin, my son, five books of poetry, two collections of short stories, and three children's books, including Marcus and the Amazons. His forthcoming books include a graphic novel for children, My Name is Marcus, and a collection of poems, Archipelagos, which borrows from Kamau Brathwaite's "Middle Passage" lecture, Aime Cesaire's "Discourse on Colonialism," Sylvia Wynter's "1492," and Amitav Ghosh's thesis in The Nutmeg's Curse to explore the relationship between Christianity, colonialism, and genocide in the Plantationocene. He is currently working on a collection of poems, Letter from Marcus Garvey.