Racial Justice by Design Town Hall: Poet Dominique Holder

Thank you to all who joined us for the July 26 town hall.

“In thinking about how to structure the town hall, I thought about how to lift up the individual perspectives of people in the community who may have experienced racial injustice,” said Ashleigh Axios, AIGA National Board member who headed up this event. The challenge: How to do so in a way that is inviting, thoughtful, artistic? Perhaps through engaging in one of the oldest art forms: poetry.

We invite you to see the world through one person’s eyes: 17-year-old Dominique Holder.

She’s the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of Prince George’s County. She self-published her first collection of poetry, “Everything Under Our Tongue,” while still in high school, where she was the leader of the poetry club. Dominique has performed in venues throughout Washington, DC (including the Kennedy Center), Maryland, and Virginia. She is working with NY publishers Penmanship Press on her first book of poetry, and will study literature and creative writing in college.

Please enjoy Dominique's poem. And share one of your favorites in the comments below.

You all remind me of poems
All of you look like poems waiting to be created
Isn’t that beautiful
I could spend hours describing in meticulous detail the lustrous fall of your body kissing the earth goodbye as your love affair with life brutally ends
I could dedicate stanzas to how we time travel back to biblical ages, bullets becoming Caines hand bashing our abel heads
It’s as if these police men think they were ordained by God to spread their “peaces” around
I could throw a couple lines of alliteration in there
Something like
Blue collared man get big gun and big gun go bang bang and black bodies go bye bye
No no wait
Let's talk about
How these brown bodies go smack on the pavement
And another brown body goes smack on the pavement
And another brown body goes smack on the bodies
And brown bodies keep going smack on the pavement and smack on the pavement
And it kinda sounds like the ones behind the gun are clapping as if they’re proud of it
I’m tired of the need for poems like this
Tributes to fallen soldiers enlisted in wars they were never suppose to be in
I can’t describe how frightening it is to know that Helly jackets now resemble body bags
That my brother can wear a suit to a job interview, get into an altercation with a "man of the law" and it be the same suit he wears to his funeral
No wonder my twitter timeline seems like an obituary of black people turned hashtags
How is it that we pledge our allegiance to a country that promises justice for all but in a court of law it seems we're always a few shades too dark to pass the bar
As if this blackness is only worth charges dropped, paid leave, and not guilty
Who do we call when the ones who are supposed to protect us are the ones killing us
Which channel do we turn to that won’t flip the script and make victim into a thug
As if pulling skeletons out of a closet justifies putting a black body into a casket
How high do I put my hands up so I can avoid going six feet under, officer
We might as well label this a genocide because we are dropping and dropping like silent bombs
They don’t feel it anymore, does anyone feel it anymore
Can you feel the explosion when melanin skin stops smiling
Somehow this atom splitting has just become another 15 seconds on the 10 o’ clock news about another 5 black people dead squeezed in between sports reports and weather updates for tomorrow
The media continues to produce unsavory news reports that we refuse to keep digesting
I’ve been throwing up ever since, morning sickness is a side effect of the truth growing inside of you
Let me slow this down so you can watch this horror story with me, listen closely
Your senior pictures will become milk cartoon photo shoots soon to be the stars on RIP t-shirts
Your graduation party will be a statement to a corrupt media
Your life will be squeezed into a long moment of silence if you’re lucky
And the only way people will remember you is when your name rises from dead and someone says, “Oh, you heard that poem too?”
We are so much more than stanzas screaming for redemption
We are so much more than war casualties
You all look like questions poems cannot answer
Isn’t that supposed to be beautiful?