See my first poem for the history behind why I started writing racial justice "poetry." This one uses cats and dogs because that was the theme for the August open mic in Medfield.
Cats and Dogs
My thoughts and concerns these days
are with a topic not so sweet and cuddly
as the pets of this poem.
I am concerned about the inequality
what happens differently for
black folks than for white folks
in our society where often seen
white is right.
When comparing pets with people
cats and dogs are not the same species
but white folks and black folks are
but you wouldn’t guess it
from how they have been treated.
Both are human
all are folks
Race is not real
but it causes real pain.
The difference between cats and dogs is real
not only fur-deep.
If you think about who is on top
among each group
one might say “man’s best friend” over
often aloof cats
but if you have seen them living together
you know that cats are the boss.
In this country
scales tip toward white
when it comes to power
Yes, there are a few
where black folks
against all odds
with extraordinary strength and perseverance
have mountain-climbed to the top.
One man now
at the very tip top
is still not trusted and is attacked
led by a white man’s biting words
cat clawing at our black leader’s place in power.
All equally special
cats and dogs
folks of different colors
can get along
But cats and dogs
can’t have children together
as folks of different colors can
and what a wonderful thing that they do.
With more and more mixing
of black with white in
and police departments
maybe some day
there won’t be such hurtful differences in
and criminal justice.
From my experience with my cats:
striped Tigger and shoulder-clinging Macaroni
with neighborhood and family dogs:
loyal Acadia, obedient Rudy, and sweet Ranger
I see that cats and dogs
are cared for and treated similarly
by their owners who love for them
by vets and animal control.
Why can we do this for our pets
but not for folks of all colors?
I have dreams at night
of the past with my cats
and day dreams for the future
where racial differences are simply
something to celebrate.
© Deb G., August, 2016
Read at a Medfield Open Mic Coffee House
and Old Souls Open Mic (Natick)