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While We Were

While We Were (June 2015)

While we were singing




A black girl got thrown to the ground

by a white policeman

at a pool party in McKinney, Texas

While we were rooting for the Cleveland Cavaliers

The family of Tamir Rice

used an obscure law to bypass the grand jury

And bring charges of murder and negligence

on two white police officers in Cleveland, OH

Family members with “knowledge of the facts”

went to a judge

I hear the judge was an HBCU alum

While we were rooting for the Golden State Warriors

a woman in Spokane, Washington was

outed by her parents for

passing as Black while

heading up the local NAACP chapter

chairing the city police oversight commission

teaching Africana Studies

even though she is White

Well, they should know!

While we were being outraged over

the white girl pretending to be Black

a black girl got beat up

raped and burnt up

by “brothahs”

in the basement

of her grandmother’s apartment in Baltimore, MD

after they stole 40 bucks

She died.

While we were

Doing hair

and getting our nails did

the white woman who started the fight

in McKinney, Texas

telling neighborhood kids to go back . . .

to their section 8 housing

calling black teens the n-word

slapping a black girl in the face

got outed on social media

put on administrative leave from her job

A schoolteacher in Texas

and a principal in Florida

lost their jobs for making racist remarks

about the whole thing


But she has not been arrested for assault.

While we were singing




racism was not mentioned

but sports commentators were very careful

NOT to be racist

They did not say




or such things


While we were singing




A white male in his 20’s

wearing Timberlanes and a hoodie (Trayvon wore a hoodie)

was welcomed into Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina

(where Denmark Vesey planned his slave revolt/he got caught/was hung)

and sat down WITH them while they were teaching . . . praying

. . . went into this church with a gun

. . . and started shooting

. . . killing black people

. . . hurting black people

. . . wounding black people

While we were . . .

Wherever we were

by Marilyn E. Thornton, copyright 2015, all rights reserved

Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton, MDiv, Vanderbilt University, is an elder in full connection in the United Methodist Church. A preacher, writer, musician, composer, lecturer, and storyteller, she wrote this poem between June 8th and 17th, 2015, based on current events. She is the editor of African American Resources at The United Methodist Publishing House and the Director of the Wesley Foundation at Fisk University.