A Poem Because I Had To

Jen, my student and friend sent this to me today. She told me, “I wrote this poem today because I had to.” She has a black son, and she is struggling with the danger that it entails for him to move about in the world and the fear it fosters for her son and all of our black and brown children. She said I could post it here. I think sharing our stories and poems far and wide might be a small road in for growing humanity and empathy – even just a pathway… do you have a story or poem to share? I will post it for you on my blog if you don’t have one and I will put it in my newsletter and talk about your stories at my events and sharing sessions. I’ll even create an event just for sharing these stories and having conversations and offering support.

A Poem Because I Had To

by Jen Babcock

What can I do for my little black boy? 

How will I keep him alive? 

Why must we fear those meant to protect, 

And those meant to help us survive?


What can we do for the little black boys, 

Urgently growing in fear? 

If they comply, they still can be killed, 

The punishment just as severe.


There was a black boy who adored his mom, 

Who ate lunch with her every day. 

He loved to chase sunsets, small moments of time; 

Captured, to make them stay.


How would he know life would follow that path, 

Be too short, and much too fleeting. 

That it could be snuffed out so quickly by those

Not caring or knowing its meaning.


He had a joy as big as the sky, 

A thing that no one can harness.

Glorious, brilliant, his colors within, 

Doused by unjust weighty darkness.


That darkness has seeped in human-kinds’ souls, 

The souls of men in power. 

Influence, rage, and force combined, 

Hungry, they kill and devour. 


If compliance won’t cause preservation, 

And running equals death, 

Then there can be no right to living

And only fear is left. 


Heading out to watch the sun, 

Act quick to glimpse those golden rays. 

There’s nothing to make you any faster,

Somehow preserving your days. 


Run home to safety, fear told him he must, 

He knew they were off the chain.

There was nothing to save him, experience warned, 

Those men would not restrain.


Taken so tragically, life doused so suddenly, 

My soul splits open and screams,

This abuse of life, this ripping away; 

It wasn’t meant to be! 

This was not meant to be.