1 in 5 (a poem)

For those who are unaware, Muslims attend what is referred to as Jumuah (congregational prayer) on Fridays and it typically consists of a khutbah (sermon) given by an imam (leader) followed by all those in attendance participating in prayer. I attended a recent Jumuah at Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam on April 22, 2016. The khutbah was given by Imam Mansoor Sabree who is currently the Regional Community Organizer at IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) located in Atlanta, Georgia, an organization which was created to increase awareness and participation in social justice. During the sermon Imam Sabree stated a statistic that struck a chord in me. He related “….one out of every five African-American men between the ages of 15 and 26 will see the jail cell…”   That one sentence is what inspired the poem below entitled 1 in 5.



They say
1 in 5 is black
1 in 5 is black
Tell my daddy to come back
Tell my brother to come back
Sound more fiction than fact
More like
if you alive and black
Cause what I see is
My daddy
and my brother
and my uncle
and my cousin
My man
and all his boys
and everybody on the bluff
The women steady crying
steady yelling
it’s enough
The reverend shouting
got me praying like that’s enough
Reaching in my pocket
pulling out them Harriet Tubman’s
Like that’s gon save the generations
who been laying down suffering
Need to be taking action
fighting for that
American Justice
American Justice
Cause it’s Just Us
Got us locked up
Got us washed up
Said it’s bad luck
Naw, it’s f**ed up
Got me f**ed up…

They say
1 in 5 is black
1 in 5 is black
Tell my brother to come back
Tell my daddy to come back
Before he hit that crack
Cause my sister on her back
Think salvation in that Ac
Validation through her acts
Complicated Facebook stat
Interchangeable like a doormat
Never change the format
Cause she say they loooove dat
So she say she loooove dat
Just to keep him in her lap
Just to keep him out that trap
Afraid he won’t come back
Using everything that she got
But what she know is not
Other than to be a man’s doorstop
Other than to be the man’s lust pot
On that 1000 foot drop
To the bedroom floor….
Then it’s on to the next T.H.O.T
Or it’s on to the next spot
Just the backdrop to the main shot
Just the prelude to the jump shot


They say
1 in 5 is black
1 in 5 is black
Feel like 4 in 5 is black
More like
if you alive and black
If you alive and black
Where yo daddy at?
Where yo brother at?
We want our family back
Take your family back

Take your family back.



If you would like to listen to the entire sermon entitled 1000 Mile Journey, please feel free to click below (begins at 3:30). Very thought provoking and insightful. Enjoy.

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