From the original post, “Sister Mama”

Alice Walker – To the Po’lice


To the Po’lice
©2014 by Alice Walker

In case you are
the answer is yes:
you have hurt us.  Deeply.
Just as you
you and those
who sent you.
You do know by now
that you do not send
I imagine your Designers
sitting back
in the shadows
as we weep.
Though usually devoid of feeling,
they are experiencing a sensation
they almost enjoy:
they get to witness, by twisted
enchantment, dozens
of strong black mothers
They planned
and nurtured
your hatred and fear
and focused the kill shot.
Then watched you
try to explain
your innocence on TV.
It is entertainment for
them.  They chuckle and drink
Watching you squirm.
They have tied you up
in a bag of confusion
from which you
will never escape.
It’s true you are white, but you are so fucking poor,
and dumb, to boot, they say.
A consideration that turns
them pink
with glee.
(They have so many uses planned
for the poor, white, and dumb: you would be
You and the weeping mothers
have more in common than you might think:
the mothers know this.
They have known you
far longer
than you have known them.  After centuries,
even those in the shadows, your masters,
offer little mystery.
If you could
find your true courage
you might risk everything
to sit within a circle, surrounded
by these women.  Their eyes red
from weeping, their throats raw.
(They might strike you too, who could swear
they wouldn’t?)
Their sons are dead
and it was you
who did the deed.
Scary enough.
But within that enclosure
Naked to their grief
Is where you must center
If you are ever
To be freed.



Alice Walker – Gather



©2014 by Alice Walker

for  Carl Dix and Cornel West

It is still hard to believe
that millions of us saw Eric Garner die.
He died with what looked like a half dozen
heavily clad
standing on his body, twisting and crushing
especially his head
and neck.
He was a big man, too.  They must have felt
like clumsy midgets
as they dragged him down.
Watching the video,
I was reminded of the first lynching
I, quite unintentionally, learned about:
it happened in my tiny lumber mill
town before the cows were brought in
and young white girls
on ornate floats
became dairy queens.
A big man too,
whom my parents knew,
he was attacked also by a mob
of white men (in white robes and hoods)
and battered to death
by their two by fours.
I must have been a toddler
overhearing my parents talk
and mystified by pieces of something
called “two by fours.”
Later, building a house,
i would encounter the weight,
the heaviness, of this varying length
of wood, and begin to understand.
What is the hatred
of the big black man
or the small black man
or the medium sized
black man
the brown man
or the red man
the yellow man
in all his sizes
that drives the white lynch mob
I always thought it was envy:
of the sheer courage to survive
and ceaselessly resist conformity
enough to sing and dance
or orate, or say in so many outlandish
You’re not the boss
of me!
Think how many black men
said that:  “Cracker,* you’re not the boss
of me;”
even enslaved.  Think of how
the legal lynch mob
not so very long ago
tore Nat Turner’s body
in quarters
skinned him
and made “money purses”
from his “hide.”
Who are these beings?
Now we are beginning to ask
the crucial question.
If it is natural to be black
and red or brown or yellow
and if it is beautiful to resist
and if it is gorgeous to be of color
and walking around free,
then where does the problem
Who are these people
that kill our children in the night?
Murder our brothers in broad daylight?
Refuse to see themselves in us
as we have strained, over centuries,
to see ourselves in them?
Perhaps we are more different
than we thought.
And does this scare us?
And what of, for instance,
those among us
who collude?
Come see what stillness
lies now
in the people’s broken
It is the quiet force of comprehension,
of realization
of the meaning
of our ancient
and perfect
of what must now be understood
and done to honor
and cherish
no matter who
today’s “bosses”
may be.
Our passion and love for ourselves
that must at last unite
and free us.  As we put our sacrificed
beloveds to rest in our profound
and ample caring:
broad, ever moving, and holy,
as the sea.


*Cracker:  from the crack of the whip wielded by slave drivers.

Updated: December 14, 2014


A la Policía
©2014 de Alice Walker

Si por casualidad
se están preguntando
la respuesta es: Sí
nos han herido. Profundamente.
Tal y como
ustedes y aquellos
que los mandaron.
¿Saben ustedes ya
que no actúan
por voluntad propia?
Imagino a sus dirigentes
a la sombra
mientras lloramos.
Aunque normalmente faltos de sentimiento
están experimentando una sensación
que casi disfrutan:
consiguen presenciar, por torcido
encantamiento, docenas
de fuertes mujeres negras
Ellos planearon
y nutrieron
el odio y el miedo de ustedes
y enfocaron el disparo de muerte.
Entonces los vieron a ustedes
tratando de explicar
su inocencia en la televisión.
Es entretenimiento para
ellos. Ríen y beben
viéndolos humillarse.
Los han atado a una
bolsa de confusión
de la cual
nunca escaparán.
Verdad que ustedes son blancos,
pero son tan jodidamente pobres
y tontos para echarlos, dicen.
Una consideración que los pone
de regocijo.
(Tienen tantas tareas planeadas
para los blancos pobres y tontos: ustedes
se asombrarían.)
Ustedes y las mujeres que lloran
tienen más en común de lo que imaginan:
las madres lo saben.
Ellas los han conocido
por mucho más tiempo
del que ustedes a ellas. Después de siglos
aun esos a la sombra, los amos suyos,
ofrecen muy poco misterio.
Si ustedes pudieran
hallar su real coraje
podrían arriesgarlo todo
para sentarse en círculo, rodeados
por estas mujeres. Los ojos de ellas rojos
de llorar, sus gargantas en carne viva.
(Ellas podrían golpearlos también, ¿quién puede
jurar que no lo harían?
Sus hijos están muertos
y son ustedes
quienes cometieron el hecho.
Bastante amedrentador.
Pero dentro de ese círculo
desnudos al dolor de ellas
es donde deben centrarse
si es que alguna vez
van a ser libres.

~  Traducción al español de Manuel García Verdecia