Our Sin: Born in America, Male, Black

By John W. Fountain 
I cannot rest
Cannot write
Cannot carry on today
Unless I pause
to say:
“Why the hell did those cops treat Alton Sterling that way?”
Shot in the back and chest
While he lay helpless on the ground
Armed & Dangerous white killers get taken in without incident
Black men
get shot down
Armed or unarmed?
It really doesn't matter
Licensed to kill us on sight
The same old American chapter
“Shoot to maim, shoot to kill”
The lynching of black men
An historic American thrill

Then comes the assassination of our character
The focus on our past
Though racist azz
white cops circle the wagons
Get their seal of protection from invisible Grand Dragons
Concoct tales that try and justify
That ask us not to believe the tale of the (video) tape
Not to trust our “lying eyes”
To ignore the cries:
“I can’t breathe”
“Officer, what did I do?”
“Please tell me why?”

And years after Obama promised change was gon’ come
Our black blood still runs
“Strange Fruit” no longer by noose but by a cop’s gun
They choke us
Beat us
Jail us
Mistreat us
As sure as the sun rises
The fabric of a nation still despises
Still calls us “Nigger”
Moments before squeezing the trigger
Treats “thug” and “professional” alike
The color of our skin
The target of their sights
That makes lynching right
That sees all black men as:
Rapists, killer, muggers, villains
Irredeemable trash
Animalistic creatures
that murderous white cops should blast
Rather than fathers
As Men
at last

And what is our sin?
Except to live in America in this black skin?

And so,
With tears in my eyes,
I pause to say
Alton Sterling didn't deserve to die that way
Murdered while lying flat on his face
with the white man’s foot on his neck
In the heat of the night
Amid flashes of the gunfire’s light
Shots in the chest
Shots in the back
No crime or sin committed
Except to be born black

And eight years after the hope
that change was gonna come
We still getting lynched
And our black blood still runs
And the pundits and experts take their side
Find ways to justify
Why at the hands of those sworn to serve & protect
We black men die

as I watched Alton Sterling’s son cry
I could only ask

And yet, I’ve long been clear about that:
Because he was born in America
Male & Black