by Leonard L. Hoston

I am the generational inheritance of racial discrimination, the underprivileged class man of quality education.

I pledge allegiance to break my back for slave wages, and send my seed to fight wars for a country that diminishes the skin she was raised in.

Equality is an illusion, the Constitution states that all white men are created equal, and being considered three-fifths of Abe Lincoln my history rooted in the suffocation of black beauty

And still I rise.

I rise from the ashes of resilient souls my veins run the blood of soldiers, from the empires of ancient Africa to the deserts of Afghanistan. I am because they were and in their honor I stand strong.

A conscious shell full of wealth, ain’t no caging this King Kong. Trauma survivor, from three-hundred and fifty years of slavery to seventy years of lynchings to a hundred and eighteen years of mass incarceration we’ve proven we can’t be eradicated.

COINTEL tried killing the movement, filling our neighborhoods with a war on drugs and presenting the propaganda that my momma’s a “welfare queen” when majority of welfare subscribers were white.

I understand though.

Othering allows a sense of prestige, the opportunity to excuse one’s self from the thought of being oppressed while creating the barrier to oppress.

However, pressure polish diamonds or burst pipes

And my karats, my clarity is beholden to carrier in which I am an ally.

For too many years I’ve demeaned, devalued and emotionally distraught our given jewels.

Now my eyes are open and I see that without you no future me is possible.

Our movement is one and on these broken wings freedom becomes oxygenated fuel

And we become innovative hidden figures carrying the souls of Elizabeth, Martin, Malcolm and Harriet making tomorrow stronger for the next gen to follow.

A prodigy I’m proud of me, and if no one sees the proud in me my shine will become that much brighter to remove those heavy clouds from me.

Updates from the University of Washington Bothell's Project on Mass Incarceration in Washington State