Read at the Black Employees Council 2020 Juneteenth Celebration
The following poem was donated by the author to the Center for Local History's Community Archive, and is reproduced here in honor of Black History Month.
André Bovier Talley, Vice President of Arlington County's Black Employees Council, wrote this poem for the BEC's 2020 Juneteenth Celebration.
He was inspired by the activists standing up and speaking out against systemic racism, police brutality against people of color, and George Floyd's murder in Minnesota at the hands of police. About his writing, Talley says he has always spoken out against racism and discrimination of any kind because he knows it is up to each individual to help change the system and the minds of those who support and enable it.
Change is Here
Written By: André Bovier Talley
June 17, 2020
If you give us no justice, they’ll be no peace-
This anger inside us, we must release-
Please hear me out, because this how my brothers and sisters are feeling-
We’re tired of being the victims of racism and senseless killings-
I know what you’re probably thinking, yeah Blacks kill Blacks-
But that’s just evidence that the Willie Lynch Letter is still in effect-
We’re tired of being hunted down in our homes and in the streets-
Please take head of what I am saying because what you sow you may one day reap-
This is not a threat as we have not reached that stage yet-
But if we see one more Brother on TV dying from a gun shot in the back or a knee on his neck-
Change must be made now as we have talked enough-
We want action now because we are tired of this racist stuff-
For centuries the world has been taught that Blacks are violent, lazy, angry and dumb-
While systems are rigged against us, and got us fighting for crumbs-
We built this country with our bare hands as slaves while shackled and forced to work for free-
And Colin Kaepernick lost millions of dollars and his career for just taking a knee-
We pay the same taxes that everyone else pay so where are our privileges-
We even pay for Bad Apples to harass and kill us, are you hearing this? –
I know that all Police are not bad because I personally know some of them-
But when the Bad Apples get out of line, you good Cops need to reign them in.
We are the leaders we’ve been looking for, this I know for sure-
If we collectively decide to push racism aside, like the Eagle, this Country will soar-
But for that to happen, these racist systems must be dismantled-
Some leaders should resign today because of how racism has been supported, enabled, and mishandled-
The humane treatment of all mankind should take precedence -
If there’s only a small percentage of racism in our systems, why is racism so prevalent? –
Times have changed, and the World is watching-
This is the longest we ever seen young people in the streets marching-
To quote the great Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. “How can a man pull himself up by his boot straps when he has no boots”
While recent tragic incidents remind me of the great Billy Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit”-
So, in closing I pray that we will be respectful to one another and resist evil and fear-
It’s up to us to make change now, and because of you today, change is here-
To our leadership, Juneteenth* needs to be recognized as an official Holiday in the same manner as the Fourth of July. These are the small steps that needs to take place to begin the healing process by showing respect and recognition to those whom endured slavery and was never compensated.
Black Lives Matter!
Thank you, and may God bless us all!
André Bovier Talley: Author Bio
I was born in Arlington on April 17, 1967 and I lived on Lowell Street in South Arlington and grew up in the DMV knowing and feeling what racism and discrimination was on a daily basis being a victim of it. This fight against racism continues today as Arlington County Board and the Manager publicly admitted in 2020 that our County is still systemically racist. This started a movement that is building and will hold them accountable to change what a lot of us know here is unfair treatment of employees and citizens of color when it comes to hiring in upper management positions of power, salaries, pay increases, housing, demotions, and layoffs. Although I believe change is here, nothing will ever change until we see change in some of the major leadership positions. We need new leaders whom are seriously committed to racial diversity and equity through action and not just talk. Policies and laws need to be created that holds everyone accountable for treating everyone respectful and equally, regardless of color, age, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, weight, height and political affiliation. All Human Beings on this earth should have the same human rights and be treated with respect regardless of anything. White privilege needs to be the thing of the past and abolished like slavery so there are no advantages given to one group of people over another, which is why we currently need affirmative action in place.
In closing, I will continue to speak up for racial justice and equality because “when there is injustice anywhere, there is injustice everywhere” Martin Luther King Jr. I would also like to quote President Obama when he said “We are the change we been looking for.” Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs at 91 years of age said “We are the leaders we’ve been looking for” and when I retire from here one day, I will become more active in activism in this area because it is my passion to see all Humans treated equally and fair.
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