Found: Not Guilty

Written by Traci Felton

You read these words in silence

They do not scream at you with the intensity as they do for me

Grip your face and press their fingers deep into your skin

with nails that scorch like hot coals

For me these words are dangerous

They are a declaration of the dread

surrounding me and a herald of what’s to come

They are not just signs of the time

but bellowing bursts of a bullet towards my skull

wishing to eradicate every thought, word, and action I can muster

These words scare me

and the fright reaches up from my depths

and burrows within my throat

It blocks any sound I may speak

and leaves a tear on my cheek

All encompassing, I can’t help but think

‘How long until you live just as me?

With knives in your back and hate in your ears

and your reflection on the tv screen shouting your fears

I can’t breathe!

You shot me! You shot me!

I didn't even do nothing!

I don’t wanna die too young.

I love you too.’

You do not believe these words

because if you did

you would think twice before putting your hoodie on at night

your hands would stick to your sides at the sight of a blue badge

and your voice would be hoarse

as your pleas piled up at the feet of politicians

who nod their heads then nudge you to the side

I cannot cry

I cannot weep

That water grows no trees

Instead I wait for the rain

to turn puddles into pools

and empires into oceans

until there is no breath to waste

And while you struggle for your life

you take a look at my face

Steel. Straight.

Silent.

To you, the pain is new

For me, I have been here all along. |

| Rob Felton (COM ‘23) is a sophomore in the College of Communication, minoring in Visual Arts. Artistic expression has always been his most valued method of interacting with the world around him. He devotes much of his life exploring the numerous ways he can articulate his thoughts and emotions in new and exciting artistic avenues. Whether it be poetry, photography, drawing, or any art form he has yet to dive into, he brings passion and intention in his expressive endeavors to tell the stories that are important to him.

“It is common practice in American culture for the white community to approach issues that face people of color, known as POC, with dismissiveness and detachment. Whether it be out of hate, fear, ignorance, or an amalgamation of feelings, the pleas of POC tend to fall on deaf ears when addressing the country’s majority. This attitude particularly extends to the tragedies of police brutality.

Police brutality is more than a news headline, but an indicator of the real tragedies and fears that the Black community specifically faces. It is more than just a Black issue, it is a human issue. Once our society as a whole accepts that statement as fact, we will be able to create solutions to these problems and grow together rather than widen the divide. Too often are Black people isolated in their issues; forgotten, abandoned, and treated as victims who must also become our own heroes. Non-Black people are not expected to relate to our issues, but in order to help alleviate our experiences, they must believe in our experiences.”