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Issue 16

Yes, I have learned from history

Yes, I have learned from history

“Black lives matter because all lives matter. Haven’t we learned from history?”
          - Mike Huckabee, Twitter, Oct. 14


I have learned “we the people”
             meant 3/5 of me
on paper, less in actuality, how
my death meant merely monetary
compensation for property, how we
were sold alongside tobacco,
branded part of this more perfect
union. How many hundreds
of years it took to convince people
             that we are people.
How many hundreds of years
             it is still taking.

I have learned how
in 20th century Alabama
400 black men were studied
for syphilis, not told
their diagnosis, told
they were there for
their “bad blood,” denied
medication. How wives
and children contracted
when they could have
been given penicillin. How we
have been told: wait.

Abolition: wait. Education:
wait. “We Charge Genocide”: 
wait. Right to not be scared
to walk from my apartment
and think today I could
be dead and it could be
because of my skin. Right

to think when I am dead
I won’t just be a name
on a list, to think the mental
illness I actually have
may be discussed
on the news. Wait.
             Right to be able to say
“I’m scared” and not be scared
the responses will be hostile.

I have seen too many
black people with scarred
backs, floating in hurricane
water, growing cancer
in their lungs because
“not in my backyard”
doesn’t apply to us.
             Another black body
in the news, dead. Another

dead. Another dead. Another dead.
Another dead. Another dead.

I have learned from history.
I have learned.
I have learned.

I’ve heard all too many times
when it didn’t include me.

Marlin M. Jenkins

Issue 15 • Fall 2015