Hands Up Don’t Shoot | Ephraim Nehemiah

Hands up don’t shoot is what happens when a protest trades its bite for a whimper
It’s how quickly we learn walking while black can become a bloodbath
Driving while black can become a bloodbath
Living while black can become an oxymoron

Hands up don’t shoot sounds more surrender than protest
Sounds like Black fist swallowed by the shame of white flag waving
Like a father’s realization that he has to warn his son against wearing hoodies at dark
For fear he will spark into 6 feet of never come home blues

Hands up don’t shoot is grief practicing self-preservation
Is the shallow water drowning and knowing that you’re supposed to stand
Erect enough to breath but being unable to do anything, but suffocate
It’s the police sanctioned protest against the police
The words of submission pouring out of our mouth
Like stomach, vomit of false nourishment
Like our bodies don’t trust our tongue to speak survival
Like it fears fight back and bad child defiant gon find their way
Fire building rescue stomping to the surface
And we would have to force ourselves to forget
How often we almost trip over the title of martyr

Hands Up don’t shoot is when we march and Instagram, 32 teeth of painted smiles
And we feel good, and go home
With just enough tired to Purell wash our guilt away for not being activist enough
Look at us assistants now… I mean activist now
Hands up, don’t shoot
Ephraim Nehemiah is a father, writer and performance poet finishing his BA at Kent State University. He participates in local, regional and national slam competitions and co-created a poetry show in Kent, Ohio in 2015 called So Journeyed Da Truth Slam. In the spring of 2016 he will be traveling as a member of the performance poetry group The Revolution. His goal is to liberate as many minds as possible and battle both mental and institutional racism and sexism.

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