Searching For The Prize: A Poem By George Cassutto

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 like a crown with his cross
a badge of courage worn
in suburbs abandoned by white paranoia
and recently occupied by a black middle class.

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 held in 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 my understanding
of what it means to be black in America.
I must learn to experience your pain.

 George Cassutto



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