Searching For the Prize

(Written after the Los Angeles Riots of 1992)

The color of my skin
chains my knowledge and my understanding
of what it means to be black in America.
I will never experience your pain.

Martin King wrote the spirit of the law
with the sword of Gandhi's truth but
no national guardsmen can accompany
the heart on its way to integration.

Malcolm Little raises a fist at the white
establishment from his grave,
his anger wrapped in bloody tee-shirts
and capped with like a crown with his cross,
a badge of courage worn
in suburbs abandoned by white paranoia
recently occupied by a black bourgeoisie.

Poverty is a slave ship that surrounds
the endangered species of humanity,
bonded to the streets of the city
until freed by a bullet in the night.

Once the heat of oppression
carried the songs of a people
seeking the Promised Land.
Now the anger of spoken music,
composed from the broken promises
of the lawmaker and the landlord,
teaches the young in their classroom of hate.

The power of history's hand
raised the brothers and sisters
of the twentieth century to the sound
of a different master:
by the whip of the weapon
and the pursuit of property.

The color of your skin
must free my knowledge and understanding
of what it means to be black in America.
I must learn to experience your pain.

George Cassutto
Teacher of Social Studies

Malcolm X

Increase the Peace
MLK in jail

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