"For my Brother," a poem / by Edna Bonhomme

Yesterday, I wrote a poem about my brother being shot in January 2019. He was unarmed and shot while grocery shopping in Miami. Florida is a state that allows for people to carry guns and “Stand Your Ground.” The poem is a reflection on the ongoing state, vigilante, and gun violence against Black people in the United States. This is a picture of him as a young boy during the late 1990s in Miami, Florida.

My brother outside Toussaint L’Ouverture Elementary School in Miami, Florida during the late 1990s.

My brother outside Toussaint L’Ouverture Elementary School in Miami, Florida during the late 1990s.

For My Brother

Society has failed you

mostly because it is afraid of you

Of your tightly curled hair

with cornrows that are

neatly braided from the hands of the

people who care for you

Society fears you

because you stand six feet tall

like your grandfather

and his father

your strength is part of our

intergenerational survival

Society has ignored you

because it cannot appraise

your humanity

your intelligence

your insight

This is a failure on society’s part

They don’t know

the brother

the son

the friend

that loves climbing banyan fig trees

at Morningside Park on temperate days.

They don’t know

the brother

the son

the friend

that adores eating friend griot with pikliz and bunun

while switching between Haitian and English or

what we call Henglish

They don’t know

the brother

the son

the friend

who loves swimming in the Atlantic Ocean

hoping to reach the edge of the horizon

What society thinks it knows is a false vision

of

all

the

men

that look like

you

All the Black men who just want to

cry

laugh

walk

read

pray

breath

and

live.

Copyright Edna Bonhomme, February 2019.