I’m curious to know, as a reading eye and listening ear, what are you expecting to hear from me?
That the feds were somehow wrong, and Shamar was right?
Or that he was justified in putting out some call to strike?
Why would you expect this? Just because the tone of our skin happens to look alike?
(scoff) right! Whether I’m Black OR White, no shade can rewrite
That what’s wrong is wrong, and what’s right is right!
And Shamar was wrong . . .
To think that the powers that be don’t care, because they do . . .
In regard to property and merchandise, just not about you
Dear young lad—who’s now prison uniform-clad
Confined for crossing all the lines like plaid
Sentenced to sleep on steel slab & fined for far more than what he grabbed
Given a bill as big as a hill, the Judge told him, “we’ll just put it on your tab”
Then, I guess in jest, they gave him YEARS of rest for HOURS of unrest
Is this unjust? Some will remark he’s better off
Citing, “he knew the difference between anger and danger was only ONE letter off
Plus, HE set it off!” Really? Are you that distraught that you don’t reflect oft?
And realize that it wasn’t a post that sent fleets into the streets feeling the opposite of peace
But the daily release of videos that showed an existence-threatening INCREASE in police causing the life from black bodies to CEASE
THAT’S why they rose like yeast
THAT’S why like Rosa, they want that fact to take a back seat
Under the threat of COVID-19, he was ONLY 19, yet overnight seen as some madman gone wild
In this adult world, where a child can make a post, to become a poster child
Or a scapegoat, but take note, how they wrote—him off as a dissident
While I’m still trying to figure out what’s the difference between him and our last President?
One, they say incited a riot at Market Place Mall that led to a loss of capital
The other, they say incited a riot on the National Mall that led to the loss of THE Capitol
One, they make excuses for and give a pass, dismissed as, “oh, he’s just an ass, who speaks off the cuff with innocent remarks that agitate hate,” yeah, but with no rebuff?
The other, they actually hunted and trapped before sun’s dawn, with guns drawn
Barked out, “get down and crawl out to the front lawn,” to be done wrong, like a spun pawn
Until a guilty plea was updrawn, then the gavel hit, now that’s one gone
If it wasn’t so sad, it’d be enough to make one yawn
Out of exhaustion, drained and tired of this double standard
And subtle pander, in a struggle to answer, why?
“WHY? Are you serious? Did you not see and hear this kid bragging and happy to claim credit for it all? Huh, I’m APPALLED!”
Well, you SHOULD be a Paul, but which one? Simon or Revere?
Because it’s clear you actually didn’t listen nor hear
He wasn’t BOASTING, he was DISCLOSING his own SHOCK and AWE
That as a young Black Male, his words were even heard at all
Like, “I can’t believe this!! We’re usually ignored and dismissed, but wow, I did this, without being jettisoned
They finally SAW ME Ellison, I’m NOT an Invisible Man, and yet I still cram to understand
How MY words can MOOOVE people to a location to act out and demand respect
While George Floyd’s words of, ‘I can’t breathe’ weren’t enough to MOOOVE a cop’s knee from off his neck, I mean what the heck!?”
People have died for far LESS than what Shamar Betts proposed for Neil & Prospect
So what did we learn from all this mess? That Black bodies are worth less than mall objects?
Well, I object, and suspect that when Shamar was moved he was probably confused, stepping off a prison bus shackled in twos
Doomed to steel catacombs, scared and alone, for numbers of winters and summers
I guess for Black folks it IS different strokes, huh, Mr. Drummond?
Since, for one Mister, drumming up a riotous beat for people to meet on the street through FACE-BOOK
Shamar soon became the FACE of having the BOOK thrown at him until, THEY took
His grin, for the win . . but if I was him . . . Oh, wait a minute, I was
And come to think of it, at the very same age too of 19, walking a mile green, but quite keen
On not letting them whack me nor distract me with the book they threw at me
So instead, I caught that book and read it line for line, page by page
Until I emerged . . from EN-CAGED to fully EN-GAGED
Exhumed from a brick cocoon with wings that bloomed and demanded that this world give me room
Thus I know it feels far Shamar, but trust, you’ll be home soon
So in the interim, prepare for your release, make the necessary tweaks, and from henceforward always reach out for peace
As George did, with his last breath when he cried out for his Mother who was on another plane
And as I imagine, you, every night in your cell, now do the same, wishing to just be an innocent kid with his “Momma” again!
Crushion (Cru Anew) Stubbs, is an organizer for the First Followers Reentry Program and the Fully Free Campaign (Champaign). Incarcerated since the young age of 19, for a total of 27 years, as a newly released resident of Champaign Crushion is an active leader and advocate for people directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
Shamar Betts update: Betts’s defense team filed an appeal on December 22 challenging the consititutionality of the Anti-Riot Act for criminalizing free speech, and the manner in which restitution ($1.6 million) was determined. In the meantime Betts has been transferred to the Hazelton Federal Correction Institute in West Virginia. Supporters can follow Shamar’s case and find out how to send mail at supportshamarbetts.wixsite.com/shamarbetts; financial donations to help Shamar continue his education can be made through gofundme.com/f/help-shamar-rebuild-after-arrest-for-blm-protest.
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