Chicago Public Schools.
Lansana describes one class of his at CSU the weekend after the Trayvon Martin story became national news. There were a series of shootings in Chicago over that weekend including the murder of a 2 year old girl. In class that Monday, Lansana had a conversation with his largely African American composition class. He asked why thousands of people marched in Sanford Florida, but no one was marching in Chicago about the 2 year old getting killed.
"And my students told me because the Trayvon Martin shooting had to do with race. And I said: So the shootings over the weekend in Chicago didn't have to do with race?" Lansana contends that the black on black violence in Chicago is related to racial inequalities as well.
His students said: 'In Chicago, if it doesn't involve me or mine it doesn't matter because it happens every day,' ---a mentality that resonates in a poem Lansana offers from his latest book, mystic turf (Willow Books 2013)
heat on the southside
last night, police cordoned the four square
blocks surrounding my house in pursuit of a thug
who unloaded on the shell of a gangsta
in the funeral parlor filled with formaldehyde
and lead. black folks scattered, staining
complicated streets. i settle in for summer:
the maze to the front door, running teens
from my stoop smelling of weed and tragedy
reminding my sons they are not sources
of admiration, praying that might change. not yet
june heat rises like the murder rate, gleam
and pop already midnight’s bitter tune
fifteen years ago, tyehimba jess
told me about a funeral home
with a drive through window.
you pull up, push a call button
through bulletproof glass a friendly
somber attendant takes your request.
moments later, casket open
your order appears for review.
at the time i thought it inhumane.
now i think about the abstraction
of friendship while counting bullets.
is there an extra dead?
what is the term for dying again
when already? killing chi?
and what of the corpses that walk
my block in the anonymity
of black skin and white tees
filled with fluid?
Makkada B. Selah is a journalist based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.