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  • anyapearson9

What it is and what it isn't

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

A Call to Action from Anya on how to engage with the poem to create a virtual protest of collective voices:

Let's mobilize and share the message widely. We will not stand by and do nothing. Create a video of yourself reading the section of the poem that connects with where you are right now, what you are feeling, and what you want to say. And/Or, go to the organizations's handles below and donate.

1) Record video of yourself reading your selection of the poem aloud

2) Put the link of the poem here on SideLight in your bio

3) Share your video on social media and tag:

@AnyaPearson on twitter / @iamanyapearson on instagram as well as the following handles: @colorofchange @reclaimtheblock @blackvisionscollective @blacklivesmatter

Pass the call to action on, and add any other handles and hashtags that you want to include.

1. This is NOT a Facebook rant

People in positions of authority

Listen up.

Don’t speak over me. Listen.

The average American,

The silent majority,

if you voted for Tr***

Listen up.

Looking down your nose

at those

of us

Weighed down by the injustice

Of a criminal justice

system that works


is NOT just

Does not justly

represent black men,

brown men,

impoverished citizens

Who cannot afford the best counsel

corporations can afford

When did us versus them


just us versus them

become corporations versus men?

When did it become impossible

to get justice as an individual man?

A little man?

Common man?

David versus Goliath man?

We’re not going to win.

System rigged, decks stacked against us, man.

There is no denying,

We dying.

Behind bars, in police cars, in the streets.

Cops’ knees in our backs.

Yelling, “we can’t breathe.”

Hands up.

“Why you stopping me?”

“Please don’t shoot!”

“What did I do?”

We are dying.

Lying in pools of blood, for hours,

in the streets,

while cops (cowards) planting guns

to justify their implicit bias

with departmentally backed lies.

(Congratulatory high fives.)

Internal reviews, walls that bleed blue,

a no snitching policy

that means their silence

is more valuable than the truth.

“I had to shoot him,

We shoot to kill,

what else was I supposed to do?”

When will we stop letting us versus them

just us versus them

become a license to kill

based on the racial difference among men?

Officially sanctioned,

governmentally sanctioned,

presidentially sanctioned,


the government lies, check the historical ties,

trace the lineage of the lies, directly back to the founding white guys.

They divide and conquer, separate and attack,

spew alternative facts

to distract us

from the truth.

But listen close.

Run that back.

We are dying.

We are dying

in modern day detention camps,

Let’s be real,

concentration camps,

at the borders.

People desperate for a better life.


and stripped of their rights

for having the courage to flee

the instability

perpetrated by American foreign policy.

Refugees fleeing violence

just trying to get by and survive,

give their kids a better life.

ICE swoops in and locks them up.

Private prisons making big bucks,

kids and babies living in squalor,

ripped away from their mothers and fathers,

corporations congratulate each other,

another day in service of the almighty dollar.

The system is broken, a token for your consideration:


2. The answer is NOT a sign in your front yard

Behind bars,

in police cars,

in the streets.

Used to be

they string us up from the trees.

Cops’ knees in our backs.

Yelling, “we can’t breathe.”

Hands up.

“Why you stopping me?”

“Please don’t shoot!”

“What did I do?”

We are dying.

Lying in pools of blood,

in the streets,

while cops planting guns

to justify their bias

with departmentally backed lies.

“We shoot to kill,

what else was I supposed to do?”

a no snitching policy

that means their silence

is more valuable than the truth.

Our truth.

Officially sanctioned Homicide,

Internal reviews, walls that bleed blue,

Then they call it justified.

But it’s still homicide.

The system is broken,

a token

for your consideration.

3. This is NOT a performative act of wokeness

Malcolm said the gifts of the constitution

weren't meant for us,

citizenry was an illusion

never meant to be gifted to us

(like a heartbeat, underneath)

No justice

No peace.

The American dream

Is a ponzi scheme

Never meant to trickle downstream

From the ruling elite to you and me.

(like a heartbeat, underneath)

No justice

No peace.

It’s just us

Speaking up to end the injustice we see

that threatens

our shared humanity,

none of us are free

if we can’t all love openly.

No justice.

No peace.

The American dream

Is a ponzi scheme

Never meant to trickle downstream

From the ruling elite to you and me.

The doctrine, a concoction,

to distract the huddled masses.

We will not take your lashes.

The powers that be never meant

for any of us to be free.

No justice.

No peace.

Its just us,

Just you and me.

Whether you look like them,

or me,

the American dream is a ponzi scheme

never meant to trickle downstream.

They never meant for any of us to be free.

The legacy of our ancestry:

Stolen from

our homeland,

brought in bondage

to this land.

From slavery to Jim crow

the fear of black upward mobility continued to grow

to criminalizing our fight

for civil rights

so they can lock us

behind bars

or shoot us from cop cars

and call their implicit bias


No justice.

No peace.

No more racist police.

The legacy of our shared ancestry?

Is that the powers that be,

the founding fathers,

never meant for any of us to be free.

No more racist politicians,

who never actually listened

to what the people want.

No more politicians

bearing witness

To the wrong side of history

Straying from morality,

denying their humanity,

preserving the fragility

of own their white male insecurity

clinging to the bullshit myth that the wealthy elite

deserve more than the poor.

Hiding behind dog-whistle phrases

lazy coded messaging,

inflaming the race-based-hate of the silent majority

other white males frustrated

by their own lack of authority.

No more politicians

on missions of




our supposed difference.

They keep us at war with each other

over who has been the most mistreated.

So that we don’t notice their greed,

egregious misdeeds,

where this is all going to lead,

their phallic need

for unlimited, unchecked power,

that all these active shooters

have white supremacy creeds.

That that guycan’t even fucking read,

That they ALL force feed

their talking points to the people who already agree.

That responsible journalism has officially died,

along with common sense.

This is my plea for a return to sanity.

The system is broken.

A token for your consideration:

Let’s rise up and build a new nation

based on the foundation

of our shared humanity

one that actually

works to uplift and

empower everybody.

Choosing love over hate,

let’s repatriate:



and peace,

Let’s burn down the mutherfucking patriarchy.


*This is an unfortunately necessary asterisk, "Burn down the mutherfucking patriarchy" is a metaphorical phrase. It is NOT a literal call for violence. It is NOT a literal endorsement of more violence, lest we forget that this all began because of several instances of fatal violence, yet again, by white people against black bodies. It is NOT a literal invitation for people to burn buildings. Patriarchy, like white institutionalized racism, is systemic. It is a systemic way of life that pervades the very fabric of Americana. Its tentacles are in every part of our society. It is not a building, or a store, or a material thing that you can literally burn down. Because the founders of America intended America to be a country, for white men, by white men, and only ever, for white men.

This moment, the second Civil Rights Movement, this frustration and grief and righteous indignation and fury, and the call to action, is about dismantling the power structures at the very heart of America’s foundation. That is what “burn down the patriarchy” means. That is what “no justice, no peace” means.

Anya Pearson is an award-winning actress, playwright, poet, producer, and activist. She was the inaugural winner of the $10,000 Voice is a Muscle Grant from the Corporeal Voices Foundation, for her choreopoem, Made to Dance in Burning Buildings. Made to Dance in Burning Buildings was showcased at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater and received its World Premiere at Shaking The Tree Theatre where Anya was the Playwright-in-Residence for the 2018-2019 season. Anya is currently working on a series of projects (in dialogue with to Made to Dance)aimed at empowering other survivors of sexual violence (especially survivors of color), raising awareness around the lasting effects of PTSD and trauma, and combatting rape culture. They include: a collection of poetry, a TV show, a documentary, a memoir, and a guide to healing co-authored with a leading trauma expert. Anya recently received micro-commission from Portland Center Stage as part of the Play at Home Initiative. Anya received the $10,000 Problem Play Commission from Bag&Baggage Productions to adapt Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure focused on mass incarceration and its effect on black families. Her adaptation, The Measure of Innocence received its World Premiere in March 2020 before being cancelled due to COVID-19. She was a finalist for the 2020 George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting and a finalist for the 2019 National Black Theatre’s I Am Soul Playwriting Residency. Anya runs a production company called Urban Haiku whose mission is to produce groundbreaking work that transcends the traditional boundaries of theatre while also serving as the catalyst for art and community action to combine for real social change. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, LineStorm Playwrights, Couch Film Collective, and a graduate of the William Esper Studio in New York City. Her best production is her 7 ½ year-old daughter, Aidee, who can be seen, most nights, trying to circumvent bedtime by asking deep philosophical questions like: “When are we going to see the world? When is my life going to truly begin?”

From Adin:

The links below are to organizations that are doing on the ground work in Minneapolis and are mobilizing efforts around the country to protect protestors. I hope you’ll learn about these organizations and donate to them. And if you are moved to share this SideLight piece with your extended network, I encourage you to also share the donation links to these organizations:

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