In recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and World Poetry Day. We are sharing a powerful poem from Legacy International alum, Sabreen. Sabreen is a Global Youth Village Alum from 2012 – 2013 and was a TechGirls staff member from 2014-2016

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Hands up, don’t shoot!

and he was not one of mine

the color of my skin and

the bruise around my eye

was a different shade of hatred than the bullet in this guy.

but the pain in his mother’s face would be the same in mine’s

on my mother’s

or my father’s

or my sister’s or my brother’s

they pointed towards our heads and we stared straight down the barrel

they threw insults and disgraces but couldn’t meet our faces

fists raised high in peaceful rage

avoiding our gaze

too many days…

he didn’t have to die

 

what did he do and why do you hate?

severing the unification of this crumbling state.

he was only twenty-one with a scholarship and hope

and a trigger took him down in place of a hooded cloak.

he was only twenty-one

mother burying her son who died in her arms like a run-over fox

we are locked in a system

twisted

and what of the Salt March, the protests, the strikes?

not with batons or fists

why indict those who stand

and this system that we preach

are we supposed to believe that this democracy is a system that’s for him as much as it’s for me?

because this institution normalizes racism and hate

and a young man died at twenty-one with an pre-written fate.

we’re all to blame, blood stains our hands though we raise them up

we’ve left a broken family in the wake of this — disrupt…

 

Hands up, don’t shoot!

and they glare at us in fear

and those wreaths are too expensive to be placed on another casket

for a life that’s not worth enough to save

how do they dare

now put a price tag on a life they were indifferent to spare?

face down he bled out in the middle of the day

‘cause he was “belligerent” and would take too much time to save

 

Hands up, don’t shoot!

but they already did and the chain around his neck had belonged to his friend

who had died at his own hands

shooting up

 

shooting down…

 

too many shots fired

lift our fists higher, our voices will rise

no compromise

another one dies

this could’ve been our shot, but we missed it

he’s now a statistic

and the greed and the fear and the mongering hate

spread out on a plate of more empty deals

laws are made to fail

we’ve seen it before, they can’t throw us in jail

 

there are too many now…

 

there was a Martin that preached and a Martin that walked

both were brought to their deaths by a bullet that talked

far louder than the coward that stood behind the trigger

we are bigger in this nation than

this mental segregation

and he was only twenty-one…

and he was only seventeen…

and he was only in his forties and a grandfather of three

and he was twelve in a playground planning out his life

taken down by a uniform that didn’t think twice

no hesitation

extermination…

 

Hands up, don’t shoot!

they are, we stand

arms locked together, woman and man

segregation, delineation, resignation — where’s the change?

burnt out faces, palms sweat — shaking — hearts beat shallow in their cage

resist defeat and drums sound heavy

from the soul of this city

from the heart of this town

overcome we shall do

(it’s been promised before) and these

sinister gunshots are the knock on the door

take a stance, band together

clean the graves that are covered

with the rubble from this struggle that’s gone on too long

 

body count — count the numbers