No Justice, No Peace of Mind

(c) 2014 S. Renee Mitchell

Photo by Samantha Taylor


(c) 2014 S. Renee Mitchell


Black lives matter...

  Honor my sons!

Black lives matter...

  Honor my daughters!

Black lives matter...

   Honor my community!


Cause when I honor you, I honor me ...


(repeat indefinitely)


Black Lives Matter

A Call-and-Response Chant






behind these words of protest

Is the heart

of a skinny young boy

scared of the boogeyman called Officer Friendly


secrecy shrouds the circumstances

questions of guilt are circumstantial

the full context yet unexplained

a time delay

releasing the officer’s name

so, this child adds up what is left

in the void of information

& comes up with this:


a white cop assassinated

a recent high school graduate

for hours

his teenaged body lay

in the neighborhood street

til the festering agony of powerlessness that ran so deep

In this impoverished

and mostly black community

could not be soothed by hurled obscenities, candlelight vigils

or agitated graffiti defacing government property


those who were there

say the outrage

of normally peaceful protestors

was amped by an outsized

aggressive police presence

which showed up in riot gear

with snarling dogs and rubber bullets

a dysfunctional daily existence

stoked by persistent oppression

ultimately gave way

to a dysfunctional form

of aggression


“You fu*@king animals,”

one uniformed cop

is quoted on camera

was it any wonder

nonviolence lost its reasoning

with chaos that day

embedded black nationalists simply refused to see its relevancy


and Mike Mike’s death

evidenced by pictures

all the world would see

offered agitators a reason

to release evidence

of their questionable morality

a perfect excuse

for disaffected black youth

to kick a bully when he’s down


so brazen looting

became a twisted tribute

to the troubled memory

of Michael Brown


“A riot is the language

of the unheard”

noted Martin Luther King Jr.

in his day


here is the urban translation

of modern-day juniors:

“Don’t nobody hear us

until we do stuff like this”


once again

a few blacks behaving badly

represented all the blacks

in that town who did not

and lazy looters made evening news

Instead of the questionable

behavior of the cops

cause on this soil

individuality is a given

only if

your pale skin classifies as white

when one face of color

acts like a thug or an ingrate

It is simply more convenient to assume they are all alike


“No justice, no peace “

“No justice, no peace”


this child’s voice

joins adult shouts in the air

but the pavement’s chalk letters

‘I’m just another black boy ‘

hint of a nagging and unsettling fear


a mother can tell sadness

shrouds his bravado

generations of grief

pool behind his eyes

cause almost every black child suspects that he is a target and

“justice for all” is an American lie


“I saw George Zimmerman

get away with it.

Now, it’s another case …”

he says his voice trailing

heavy as the train wreck

he suspects is headed his way


with each step

he takes into the night

he weaves in and out of the noise

car horns blow

people shout

whistles scream

but when morning comes

what will it all really mean


“It’s crazy out here, though"

“You didn’t

have to shoot him down”

“I am just 14”

“What if that was me?”


“Am I next, “

he wonders aloud

“Am I next?”

© 2020 by Renee Mitchell Speaks. All Rights Reserved.

   "Words have power.

Choose them wisely."