I've Been Terrorized in My Own Country

A way of life it has become

Jimi Johnson | 3/2/2016, 10:35 a.m.
'Terrorized,' my poem in honor of Black History Month
Jimi Johnson

I was terrorized when my mother told me that a 14 year old black boy named Emmitt Till was lynched in Mississippi for looking at a white girl.

I was terrorized when I watched the evening news and saw Alabama police beating black boys and girls and giving them the blues.

Spraying them with fire hoses and knocking 'em to the ground--

Then the dogs began biting them while they were already down.

I was terrorized and traumatized when Megar Evers was murdered for trying to gain voting rights for black people in the south.

It cost him his life so we must VOTE, not only with our mouth--

I was terrorized when Malcolm X was murdered in 1965--

All he ever wanted was for us to stand up and rise!

When the anguish of the black community reached a boiling point in L.A. Watts burned like wildfire and many lives were snuffed away. Again I was terrorized as tears welled up in my eyes. The war on terror is at my doorstep; land mines everywhere I dare not misstep!

As police brutality ran rampant and out of control--

Riots in 1967 put the country on hold -- I was terrorized!

I screamed in terror when Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. He had prayed for peace and there was none to be found --

Cities burned across America as he was laid in the ground. Once again I cried -- I was terrorized.

I was terrorized when police in riot gear patrolled our streets-

And demanded that black people not be around, or go to jail after sundown!

I was terrorized when they tried to bus me to an all white school--

I refused to go, I'm not the fool.

When I walked into a store in a small southern town and was told "we don't serve your kind"-- I got a lump in my throat and those words never left my mind!

I was terrorized when the police pulled me over --

They wanted to see my I.D.

With hands on their guns and resentment in their eyes, I said a silent prayer -- Please don't shoot me.

With gangs running rampant in our neighborhoods I'm terrorized once again, but they have been terrorized too --

It is still up to us to teach them what to do.

I was terrorized when Portland police murdered a young black woman named Kendra --

Before my tears could dry, another young black man named Perez had to die.

Michael Brown, Sandra Bland and Treyvon Martin too --

In the 21st century we find nothing new- I'm still terrorized.

And now.......... ‘I can't breathe’!

This is terrorism and it lives next door, across the street and around the corner in the name of law and order.

I was terrorized and traumatized when the Black Panthers took a fall --

They stood Black and Proud and tried to help us all.

I'm stunned and terrorized time and time again, I see too many black men locked up in the pens. Second chance we got none, barely a first --

Destiny arranged from the time of our birth.

So terrorized was I a conspiracy this must be, because one by one they've tried to eliminate you and me.

I went to the doctor and was terrorized again --

The doctor said most deadly risks are found in black men.

Cancer, kidney failure and high blood pressure too --

They would do the same thing to me that an Uzi would do!

I've been terrorized in my own country --

A way of life it has become.

My life span has been shortened and my babies are dying too young!

Terrorism has been with me like my next to kin --

And in the United States of America the healing must begin.

--Jimi Johnson is a freelance writer and poet from Portland.