Friday, September 30, 2016

Cats and Dogs: racial justice poem 2

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
          between races 
what happens differently for
          black folks than for white folks
in our society where often seen
          white is right.

When comparing pets with people
          we know
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
          with feelings.

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
          and privilege.
Yes, there are a few
          rare cases
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
both furry:
          cats and dogs
and skin-covered:
          folks of different colors
can get along
          can coexist.
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
          work places
          and police departments
maybe some day
there won’t be such hurtful differences in
          work places
          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.

© DG., August, 2016 
Read at a Medfield Open Mic Coffee House and Old Souls Open Mic (Natick)

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