By Fred Williams   

Black lives matter—
in a country that hung black people from trees
and wouldn’t allow black people to leave
and wouldn’t allow black people to read
Negro please!

I would say black lives matter
but I don’t feel like cracking jokes
and this ain’t no laughing matter
the nation is crying
because when a cop murders a black person it’s not a crime

They close the casket
but can’t seem to close the case
Racism is grotesque
that’s why we march and protest
Those children’s tears
represent generational fears
Those children’s screams
will go as far as those children’s dreams

I would say black lives matter
but I have a pair of eyes and a set of ears
and a brain that was on crack during my embryo stages
How many black babies born inside prison cages?

We’ve been seeing Jacob Blake for ages
a black father, being bothered by white cops
who treat traffic stops like its black ops
My ancestors are trapped in the African museum
but I gotta pay the European just to go in and see ’em

I can’t say black lives matter
and think it will change the way black lives vanish
without the right to vote
a black person with a felony barely has the right to hope

I can’t say black lives matter
they might mistake me for a fool
like when I asked for 40 acres and a mule

Their discrimination is supported by the constitution
so how am I a revolutionary without a revolution?
Justice reform is just another form of
policy change and is that really positive change?
We have to stop popping each other over pocket change
and diamond chains
and diamond Chrysler
Jesus Christ
I cry when I watch the daily news
Rest in peace Breonna Taylor, those cops slayed her with bullets made tailor
then a black man murdered another black man five seconds later

We can’t say black lives matter if we keep killing one another
We can’t say black lives matter if we don't educate one another
I can’t say black lives matter until black guys come together
put down the 40 cal and 223’s sit down with your child and teach the ABC’s
that's when we don't have to say black lives matter
because that’s when we show black lives have value

Fred Williams (b. Detroit, 1983) is an activist, poet, writer, and organizer with the Hamtramck Free School. His work has appeared on the Hamtramck Free School’s Incarcerated Archive, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Film Theater, College for Creative Studies, Rustbelt Abolition Radio, Democracy Now!, and Michigan Public Radio. Williams was convicted as a juvenile and is serving a life sentence in Carson City, Michigan.

Published by Three Fold in collaboration with the Hamtramck Free School’s Incarcerated Archive

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Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Three Fold recognizes, supports, and advocates for the sovereignty of Michigan's twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands. We operate on occupied territories called Waawiiyaataanong, named by the Anishinaabeg and including the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewatomi (Potawatomi) peoples. We hold to commit to Indigenous communities in Waawiiyaataanong, their elders, both past and present, and future generations.