• Riah Writes

UNITY: A poem response to Black Lives Matter

Updated: Nov 3




This poem captures the moment someone is leaving their house to join the Black Lives Matter protests. It is early morning. They can hear the echoes of others in the street closing their doors to start their working day. The sounds of a news presenter plays on the radio in the kitchen mumbling reports of crowds rallying together causing 'disturbance' and traffic. And the smell of toast lingers in the air- a reminder of the untouched breakfast and butterflies in the stomach flying the rush to leave the house.


In their hallway, the person sees their reflection in the mirror and realises there's more than one person looking back:




UNITY

Before I leave, I catch my reflection.

A masked stranger I barely recognise.

Upon further inspection

There’s more than one reflection

Faces of hope

And some that agonise

Different versions of me in this house of mirrors. I in you, and you in me.

Many paths leading to the same destination: the goal of unity.

Some of us will march today

and form a lasting bond.

Others will write and petition,

all equal ways to respond.

Because we realise there’s no Monopoly when it comes to this game of compassion.

The fight for our lives is not just a moment, a trend or fleeting fashion.

Mask. Pressed. to nose. and lips. I feel

I.

Can’t.

Breathe.

New family members chant the same and

Want.

To.

Believe.

That there can be a different world

Where boy or girl

Or a binary don’t exist.

Where the colour of your skin

Or your value within

Make you a human with the right to persist:

That we deserve to live and love and breathe and give others the same

So we don’t lose our families, bury brothers with history repeating their name.

Looking at you all I acknowledge your existence

Your pilgrim journey in sacred resistance.

What a beautiful surprise to see a mirror of faces

These bodies within me even have wrinkles and different races

Unified we stand and continue to walk.

We face uncomfortable truths of having to have ‘the talk’

And so.

We will not stop this walk

We will follow the paths

And the invitation of this community

Queen Latifah spelt it out

Malcom X walked in out

And the chorus we speak of?

is UNITY.


My words were inspired by the idea of imagining what it would have been like to join the BLM protests. I was unable to attend the marches in person due to COVID19 risks living with someone in the vulnerable category and working as a frontline keyworker. However, this poem aimed to highlight the unifying nature of this movement. Many voices and talents are needed to unify and create lasting change.


This poem was selected as a finalist for the 'Your Voice Matters' Project produced by The Black Wellbeing Collective. It was developed into a short film thanks to a wonderful set that supported the cause and vision.


To see how the poem was transformed into a visual performance by me, see below:






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Be sure to check out and support The Black Wellbeing Collective and the wonderful work they are doing. A panel event with all the poets that participated in this project will be announced soon, so follow for more information. Photography by @official_kaicaptur



Thanks for visiting the Riah Writes creative writing blog. Riah is a creative writing blogger/poetry blogger interested in wellness, society, social justice rights issues and the Arts. Follow the blog and on Instagram to stay updated on new content.

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