Convict leasing

“Black Americans were exchanged for a sense of white security.” Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.

The pit, the bodies, the stench,

This dark dinghy unfeeling place,

With nothing to comfort me, but vermin and shadows.

 

Sun up to sun down we work with little rest,

Like our grandfathers on the plantation,

Building their future while ours is stifled,

Fulfilling their dreams while our hopes are snatched,

The sun strangling us, the snow drowning us,

Our black skin tormented by whips and disease,

Justified by our unemployment and poverty,

But I know better.

 

Forty years since they said we were free,

That we were slaves no more,

But, if this is freedom I don’t want it,

I don’t want slavery without the label,

The chains without the warped justification,

I don’t want it,

I need better.

 

A convict’s poem

 

By Shaurna Cameron

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