The Hoodie - Prince Mensah


In Memory of Trayvon Martin

just because I wear a hoodie does not mean I'm up to no good -
why does a simple outfit stroke all these fears?
what have we learned about ourselves through all these years?
the last time I checked, character was first on the checklist
but I guess it doesn't matter if my skin is black,
it doesn't matter if my sin is to be black,
it doesn't matter if people presume I'm guilty
so they shoot, oh shoot, they shot the wrong man
and young life is wasted on old misconceptions
race has replaced reason and logic; tragic is our time
for the slime of hatred chokes our conscience -
what should bring us together divides us more
what is essential has become another boring chore -
all I want is peace, why this war on my rights?
All I want is justice, all I want is fairness, all I want
is what you will want when one of your sons gets shot
by a stranger, it keeps getting stranger when a law backs
murder - what is the need to stand your ground when no such need exists?
I am tired of the tears, tired of the false fears that stain and strain
relations between fellow americans - give me liberty or give me death -
liberty to live without fear of partiality, liberty to trust that justice will serve me
just as it serves sons of other mothers

just because I wear a hoodie does not mean I'm up to no good -
why does a simple outfit stroke all these fears?
my life has ended because justice is upended
by forces of schist origins, the old practice
of separate justice has seeped its way
into the body politic and people cannot agree
that, in the land of the free, it is unacceptable
for race to have a place in our considerations -
my life has ended because old habits die hard -
justice is still hijacked by die-hards of division -
america needs an ablution from prejudice;
this country's absolution begins when we actualize
the preamble of the constitution -
all men are equal - not words but deeds -
all men are equal, not in speeches but in laws -
my life has ended because we still pretend that our precepts
give each citizen a fair shot at justice -
I am sorry but you made my color part of the equation,
it sits at the very center of this sad situation -
when shall we accept, in our national psyche, that each race
is the same as the other, to refuse to accept this simplicity
is a crime against common sense

just because I wear a hoodie does not mean I'm up to no good -
why does a simple outfit stroke all these fears?
the love of guns has erased the love for man
death and division have the blueprints for this labyrinth of chaos -
our society is ready to lose its young in its enjoyment
of dangerous vocations - as a young black man,
I always got to check for looks and location,
Why? I am no criminal, I'm just an American -
but my American experience exorcises my confidence
I have more hurdles when I try to exercise my rights -
I belong here, it was my ancestors who built this country -
I belong here, my forebears sacrificed their lives for this nation -
we tell other countries to practice human rights:
can we use that same advice here at home?
you checked my dead body for drugs as you allowed
my murderer to go home without scrutinizing him -
I guess his looks were enough to make him innocent,
I guess he stood his ground so the law protected him -
what if I had the gun and he has the hoodie on?
what if it was your son with iced tea in his hands and skittles in his pocket?
what if it was your son who was walking through the neighborhood?
what if it was your son who was wearing the hoodie?

what if?

what if, america?



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Prince Mensah is a regular contributor and Associate Editor here at OGOV.
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